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Sen. Paul proposes legislation to allow unused COVID relief funds to be used for disaster recovery

Sen. Rand Paul.
Mandel Ngan
AFP/Getty Images
Sen. Rand Paul.

Sen. Rand Paul announced the introduction of the Prioritizing Disaster Relief Act Monday, which would allow COVID-19 relief funds to be used in disaster recovery efforts.

The act – proposed nine months after a devastating tornado outbreak ripped through western and central Kentucky and nearly two months after historic flooding hit eastern Kentucky – would allow groups to use unspent COVID-19 relief funds on disaster recovery efforts still happening throughout the state.

Paul said the legislation would allow funds that have gone unused to go towards people and communities in need.

“As we continue to recover, I remain committed to doing all that I can in helping Kentuckians repair and rebuild their homes and businesses,” Paul said in the press release. “In an effort to respond to the ongoing needs and concerns of people on the ground, my bill prioritizes disaster relief efforts by freeing up already appropriated and unspent COVID-19 relief funds to go to those who need it most. Whether it be a flood in eastern Kentucky, tornado in western Kentucky, hurricane in Florida, or fire in California, my bill would unlock millions of leftover COVID-19 funds to be immediately used to help rebuild homes and businesses in disaster areas.”

He said the unused funds would allow groups to help rebuild homes and businesses in the aftermath of a disaster.

Funds from the following governmental relief efforts throughout the pandemic would be eligible: COVID-19 CARES Act, the American Rescue Plan Act, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act,the Emergency Aid for Returning Americans Affected by Coronavirus Act, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, the Continuing Appropriations Act 2021 and Other Extensions Act and the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act.

After visiting Paul eastern Kentucky in early August in the aftermath of the flooding, the release said Paul wrote letters to President Joe Biden and Gov. Andy Beshear requesting that waivers be granted to these communities to the same end.

Lily Burris is a tornado recovery reporter for WKMS, Murray State's NPR Station. Her nine month reporting project is supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
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