DENHAM SPRINGS – A Senate vote on the duplication of benefits issue could come sooner than expected.

The Senate will likely bring the matter to a vote by mid-August, Congressman Garret Graves said Tuesday after the Livingston Parish Chamber of Commerce’s Young Professionals Luncheon on Tuesday at Greystone Country Club.

The vote is long overdue, he said.

“We’re not just talking eight months – we’re talking about almost two years,” Graves said. “We do know, however, that this is an important issue and we need to make sure it gets passed.”

Graves and fellow Congressman Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, have been outspoken in criticism on the DOB legislation. Their bipartisan approach has drawn strong support among House members in Washington.

It’s a different story in the Senate, where some members have disagreed with key issues in the bill.

In a previous attempt to shoot down the DOB policy, senate members shot down a move to eliminate the provision that states a FEMA grant and an SBA loan a duplication. The Senate amend also limited the DOB exemption to natural disasters in 2017 – a move which would knock Louisiana out of the equation.

Federal government considers an SBA loan and a state grant a duplication of benefits because both are funded by federal dollars.

“There’s nothing duplicative about a long and a grant – nothing,” he told Chamber members.

Sen. Bill Cassidy pushed for addition of the DOB policy to the FAA reauthorization legislation that would fund programs through 2023. The FAA’s current reauthorization legislation expires in September.

Removal of the DOB provision would open eligibility to more than 8,000 additional homeowners if the bill passes, according to Pat Forbes, executive director of the Louisiana Office of Community Development, which oversees the state’s recovery program.

Most applicants who had applied for SBA loans were denied awards from the Restore Louisiana because of the provisions outlined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which oversees the SBA.

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