Sen. Cruz Commends FEMA for Ensuring Houses of Worship Are Eligible for Federal Disaster Relief Assistance

I issued the following statement commending the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for changing its policy to ensure houses of worship are now eligible for federal disaster relief assistance.

I am glad that FEMA has taken critical action to rectify what was previously a misguided, discriminatory policy in order to ensure that private, faith-based, non-profit facilities are now eligible for federal disaster relief assistance. I saw first-hand during my visits throughout Texas the devastating impact that Hurricane Harvey had on churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship. There are also countless stories of faith-based institutions displaying extraordinary resilience and strength in the aftermath of the hurricane by providing important aid including food and shelter to our friends and neighbors throughout Texas. As Texas continues to rebuild, houses of worship damaged or destroyed on or after August 23, 2017 will now be able to receive FEMA assistance, due to this change in policy.

The Trump Administration deserves tremendous credit for this significant decision. Congress still cannot forget its own constitutional responsibility to protect faith-based groups from discrimination. The Supreme Court made it clear in Trinity Lutheran: to deny an institution a public benefit, solely because it is a church, synagogue, or other place of worship, ‘is odious to our Constitution.’ I was proud to join 33 other Members of Congress in an amicus brief then to defend the right of religious institutions to be treated equally by the government. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate and House to ensure this new policy is codified into law.

Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), James Lankford (R-Okla.) and I introduced S. 1823 - the Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act of 2017 - which would make houses of worship eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance program grants. 


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