Washington, D.C. – Today, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) made the following statement about the need to provide a higher limit for the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA)’s advance billing authority, which would enable the Defense Department to continue providing life-saving disaster aid in areas affected by Hurricane Maria:

“We must act quickly to provide the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) with additional authority to continue delivering life-saving supplies, equipment, and aid to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. A huge number of our fellow citizens are still in a dire situation without power, water, and food. I am pleased that the House plans to vote on a provision which would grant DLA that additional authority this afternoon, as part of a package that includes disaster relief funding. I urge my colleagues to support this bill.

“This vote will indicate how much Congress recognizes the importance of supporting millions of American citizens who are still in danger, and whose lives have been upended. But we should also be asking: Why is President Trump speaking as if he sees no need for a robust response and a long-term commitment?”

The DLA has a statutory cap of $1 billion per year that it can advance-bill agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) when it supports them. Because the destruction from Hurricanes Maria, Irma, and Harvey has been so widespread, the DLA is currently on pace to exceed its advance billing authority for FY 2018 within weeks, unless the cap is raised by law. That would prevent DLA from providing FEMA mission assignments for more meals, water, fuel, and other aid.