Senate shutdown compromise includes Colorado flood relief

October 16, 2013

Workers clear a path while cleaning up flood damage Oct. 3 in Salina, Colo. (Jeremy Papasso/AP)

The Senate compromise that would fund the government for several months and avoid a debt limit fiasco includes a provision to speed emergency funds to help Colorado towns rebuild after devastating floods ravaged the Rocky Mountain foothills early last month.

Sens. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) convinced Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to include the bill in the deal Reid struck with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Udall spokesman said.

The measure would lift a $100 million cap on emergency highway funds that Colorado is eligible to receive. Colorado will now be able to receive up to $450 million in Federal Highway Administration funding to repair more than 200 miles of highway and about 50 bridges damaged or destroyed by the flooding.

Congress has routinely lifted that cap for states hit by disasters, including Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy. The Senate passed the measure in late September by unanimous consent, but the bill died in the House of Representatives.

“Lifting this cap removes an important political roadblock, and will make available crucial resources we need to get people moving around the state again. Coloradans have been resilient and patient, but it’s time to let us get to work so we can repair and reopen key access routes to communities affected by the floods,” Bennet said in a joint release issued by the two Colorado Democrats.

Udall and Bennet had originally sought to raise the cap to $500 million, the same amount states hit by Sandy were eligible to receive.

The government shutdown has slowed Colorado’s recovery efforts as National Guard units slated to help repair roads and bridges have instead been furloughed. Colorado is paying to have members of the Kansas National Guard help with repairs, the state announced Tuesday.

Reid Wilson covers national politics and Congress for The Washington Post. He is the author of Read In, The Post’s morning tip sheet on politics.
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