Nov 10, 2019

FEMA to grant $10 million to 26 states managing hazardous dams

The Oroville Dam in California in 2017. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

The Federal Emergency Management Agency plans to allot $10 million to 26 states with dangerous dams that have failed safety standards, AP reports.

Why it matters: The $10 million falls well below the $70 billion the Association of State Dam Safety Officials assesses is needed to repair and modernize the nation’s tens of thousands of aging dams.

  • An AP analysis identified at least 1,688 high-hazard dams in need of attention in 44 states and Puerto Rico. It also found that around 1,000 dam failures over the past four decades have killed at least 34 people.

Background: FEMA is releasing the grants as a part of the Rehabilitation of High Hazard Potential Dam Grant Program, which was created in 2016 to give states $445 million over 10 years to repair, improve or remove dams. However, states or local entities are required to provide a 35% match to the grant they receive.

  • Congress did not fund the law's $10 million annual appropriation in 2017 or 2018.
  • This year, Congress funded only $10 million of the $25 million authorized for 2019. This will be the first year a national program will focus only on dams overseen by states and local entities.
  • The law allows Congress to authorize an additional $40 million in 2020, but lawmakers have not yet agreed on next year's allotment.

Details: New York and Ohio both received the largest award of more than $1.2 million, while Oregon received $260,484, according to AP. Some states have to determine if their dams will benefit from the grants.

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Tennessee becomes the first state to ask for Medicaid block grants

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee. Photo: Terry Wyatt/Getty Images

Tennessee is formally asking the Trump administration today to transform its Medicaid program into a block grant — the first real test of an idea that has captivated conservatives for years.

Why it matters: Tennessee's request will test the bounds of what the Trump administration can do on its own, as it seeks to overhaul the Medicaid program. And if it’s successful, it would usher in a new model for a program that covers some 75 million people.

Go deeperArrowNov 20, 2019

The disparity in FEMA's hurricane aid between the Caribbean and mainland

A roof in San Juan, Puerto Rico, still shows damage from Hurricane Maria two years ago. Photo: Ricardo Arduengo/AFP/Getty Images

FEMA data and records demonstrate "the degree to which the recovery from Hurricanes Maria and Irma on America’s Caribbean islands has been stalled ... leaving the islands’ critical infrastructure in squalor and limbo," the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The stalled aid highlights the disconnect between how the federal government can view American citizens in its territories, like Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, that lack congressional representation and Electoral College votes versus those on the mainland.

Go deeperArrowNov 27, 2019