Garcia amends bill to encourage generator reimbursements

FILE Mike Garcia speaks at the meeting of the Santa Clarita Republican Women Federated held at The Oaks Club at Valencia in Valencia on Saturday, July 20, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, added language to the 2022 Homeland Security funding bill Tuesday to “encourage the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to reimburse the cost of generators for individuals who are affected by Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS),” according to a news release issued by Garcia’s office. 

Garcia secured the language in the $58.21 billion bill during a House Appropriation Committee hearing in Washington, D.C. During the hearing, Garcia briefly spoke to explain the PSPS policy in California. 

“While this policy … is intended to prevent wildfires from starting in certain weather conditions, PSPS have real, negative consequences that can’t be ignored — such as the loss of water, perishable food and fuel,” he shared with colleagues. “It is especially dangerous for those with medical needs, where an interruption of power could be life-threatening. These power shutoffs are, in most cases, representing a greater threat than the fires themselves.” 

Though the bill does not guarantee FEMA will reimburse the cost of generators for individuals who are impacted by PSPS, Garcia’s office said in a prepared statement, the language is a step toward securing such a commitment. 

“Even though these power shutoffs aren’t the fault of any of my constituents, they have to pay for generators out of their own pocket in order to have a backup source of power. Utilities offer to pay only a small percentage of the cost of generators for ratepayers, but not enough to make this an affordable option for everyone,” Garcia said, noting he will continue advancing long-term solutions. 

In a 33-24 vote, Garcia voted against the legislation. 

“While the congressman is pleased that his PSPS language was included in the overall bill, the congressman found that the bill at large still needs work, including that the bill made significant cuts to Customs and Border Protection and does not adequately value border security,” Molly Jenkins, Garcia spokeswoman, said in a prepared statement. “He looks forward to continuing to follow the legislative process as the bill ultimately is brought to conference negotiations with the Senate where the congressman is hopeful it will receive the changes necessary to become a piece of legislation he can support.” 

The bill “makes responsible investments in border security,” according to a news release issued by the House Appropriations Committee. The bill, according to the release, also “respects the dignity of immigrants with new funding to improve migrant processing and reduce backlogs in refugee, asylum and immigration benefit applications.” 

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