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WASHINGTON – Today, the House of Representatives passed the bipartisan Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities Act, led by U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and now heads to the President’s desk. The bill previously passed the Senate unanimously in September. This legislation will allow rural homeowners, renters, and small businesses to more easily access disaster relief in the wake of a natural disaster.

“I’m pleased to see this bipartisan legislation head to the President’s desk and be signed into law,” said Risch. “Rural communities impacted by natural disasters will now be free of bureaucratic red tape and receive the critical resources needed in a timely manner.”

“When a disaster hits a rural community, small businesses often face undue red tape as they recover and rebuild,” said Shaheen. “Small businesses are the backbone of New Hampshire’s economy, and they deserve timely access to the relief they need when they’re most vulnerable. That’s why I’m thrilled the House passed this bipartisan, commonsense legislation to address bureaucratic barriers and ensure emergency resources are available to rural Granite State business owners.”

Background: In the spring of 2019, Idaho County in the Idaho panhandle experienced severe and unprecedented flooding, prompting a Presidential Disaster Declaration for Public Assistance that helped rebuild roads and public infrastructure. In response to scores of affected small businesses and homeowners in the region, the state also applied for SBA’s disaster assistance programs. However, Idaho’s request was denied.

Under current law, bureaucratic roadblocks prevent small businesses and homeowners in rural communities from accessing Small Business Administration (SBA) assistance following a natural disaster. The Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities Act allows the Governor of a state to request disaster assistance from the SBA during a presidentially-declared disaster, allowing rural communities to more readily access and secure SBA disaster assistance during the greatest times of need.

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