Sullivan drops hold on government funding bill after Biden agrees to more Alaska money

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Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) dropped his hold on a short-term government funding measure Thursday after President Biden acceded to his demand for more disaster relief assistance for coastal Alaskan communities slammed by flooding and landslides caused by Typhoon Merbok.

Sullivan said he insisted to the White House that Alaska get the same federal treatment as Puerto Rico, which was devastated recently by Hurricane Fiona.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Sunday that it had approved nearly $40 million to the survivors of Fiona.

“I forced it,” Sullivan said Thursday of the aid to Alaska. “I’ve been saying for the last several days with numerous … the Secretary of Homeland Security and other folks in the White House [that] Puerto Rico was going to get 100 percent cost coverage for their disaster relief.”

He said the area that got hit by the typhoon in Alaska is “one of the poorest regions of the country,” with “poverty rates similar to Puerto Rico,” and should receive the same coverage.

“I was just informed that the administration agreed with my request,” he said on his way to the Senate floor to inform leaders that he would drop his hold on the continuing funding resolution.

The measure passed the Senate 72-25 shortly after.

The White House announced Thursday that Biden had made additional disaster assistance available to Alaska by authorizing an increase in funding to help Alaskan villages rebuild from the flooding and landslides triggered by the typhoon earlier this month.

Biden’s previous disaster declaration for Alaska, made on Sept. 23, would have had the federal government cover 75 percent of eligible assistance costs.

The new order states the federal share for emergency measures has been increased to 100 percent of the eligible costs incurred during the first 30 days after the typhoon, according to a White House press release.

“A lot of times things happen in Alaska that don’t make a lot of news down here, but that typhoon was massive,” Sullivan said Thursday. “It hit one of the poorest regions of my state.”

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