UH flood relief pulled off
congressional spending bill

About $40 million in flood-relief money for the University of Hawaii and Manoa Valley were dropped from a spending bill in a congressional conference committee last week because of objections from House Republicans, U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye said yesterday.

The money had been included in an emergency appropriations bill for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the war on terror and tsunami relief that passed the Senate last month.

But Inouye said he had to withdraw the flood-relief money from the $81 billion appropriations bill after House negotiators refused to include it in the final version of the measure. The bill is expected to be voted on in the House this week and the Senate next week.

The group Citizens Against Government Waste criticized Inouye for including the money in the bill, naming him the "Porker of the Month" for April.

Inouye spokesman Mike Yuen noted that the same group had criticized the senator for getting federal funds to keep the brown tree snake out of Hawaii and support the East-West Center.

Inouye said he would try to seek the funding through other appropriations bills.

"This will be a tough budget year with many competing interests, but I still plan to secure flood-relief assistance for UH and Manoa Valley," Inouye said in a written statement.

In an earlier statement, Inouye said the money would provide $23 million for costs not covered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and $16.8 million to help prevent future floods.

That would be in addition to about $31 million in FEMA disaster-relief funds that the state still expects to receive.

FEMA officials estimate that about $41 million of cleanup and reconstruction costs from the Oct. 30 flood are eligible for federal disaster funds. UH-Manoa suffered about $81 million in damage to 32 buildings.

Insurance is expected to pay for about $25 million of the damage at UH.

State Civil Defense Vice Director Ed Teixeira said Congress has helped higher education institutions recover from disasters in the past, and he is confident Inouye will be able to find a way to get the money.

UH spokeswoman Carolyn Tanaka said the university is grateful for Inouye's efforts.

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