Washington, DC – Congressman Garret Graves (South Louisiana) issued a statement today after victims of Louisiana’s Great Flood of 2016 filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to force payment for duplication of benefits claims. The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgement that would force the federal government to comply with a law that Graves and Congressman Cedric Richmond (D-LA) authored and that the president signed into law on October 5, 2018 to fix the so-called duplication of benefits fiasco.
Graves said: “The word frustrating hardly conveys what our flood victims have had to endure, and this suit complements our ongoing efforts to get flood victims their money. We have been working with the attorneys and plaintiffs of this case while continuing to push the issue on our end through meetings and weekly calls with HUD and other administration officials. The bureaucrats at HUD are going to be held accountable for not doing their job.
Here’s the deal: our bill to eliminate the duplication of benefits provision – the flawed policy calling a loan and grant duplicative and that has prevented a host of Louisiana flood survivors from accessing Restore Louisiana grants – passed the House three times last Congress, the Senate finally passed it too and the president signed it into law in October last year. The law is fixed, and the $250 million we appropriated for duplication of benefits flood victims has been sitting there for two years. This is nothing more than bureaucracy at its worst, continuing to inflict additional harm to flood victims. And while the HUD bureaucracy has unlawfully dragged this out, homes have been foreclosed upon, people are struggling with medical bills, and other financial strains have further compounded the impact of this disaster.
The law we wrote and that HUD is breaking provided 45 days for them to issue the guidance they now cite as the final hurdle – that would have been the third week of November 2018. No more excuses. It’s time for an accountability check. We haven’t asked for a flight to Mars here; we’re simply asking them to follow the law.