The voice of America’s legislative branch apparently means nothing to federal bureaucracy.
That’s the message the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has conveyed in its refusal to move forward on the waiver for release of relief funds for natural disaster victims upon the fix of the Duplication of Benefits provision.
More than one month after expiration of the 45-day window for President Donald Trump to put his signature on authorization to distribute the funds, the issue remains unresolved.
Keep in mind Louisiana is not alone in this quandary.
Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands – all of which incurred severe natural disasters in the past few years – find themselves in the same boat as the Pelican State.
Congressman Garret Graves has led the pack for HUD to move forward on the waiver. The agency has now said the signature is not necessary, which would mean Restore Louisiana could begin doling out the funds allocated through the HUD Community Development Block Grant.
Graves and Gov. John Bel Edwards are both leery about that move, largely because representatives of the agency do not know how they would handle the situation if they discover later that the wavier should have had the president’s signature. In the case of HUD, it’s a matter of one hand not knowing what the other one is doing.
It makes sense for both to err on the side of caution, knowing an about-face by the federal government would prove grossly unjust to the homeowners and devastating to the state coffers.
Sanctions or a lawsuit against HUD may be the only appropriate measure for release of the funds without unforeseen strings attached.
In the meantime, it’s another slap in the face for the victims of natural disasters in Livingston Parish and its surrounding parishes, as well as other states which continue to recover.
Haven’t these victims suffered enough?