President Donald Trump and black Democratic lawmakers don’t agree on much, but they do agree that FEMA needs to fund houses of worship that assist hurricane victims of hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
As the waters slowly recede from Houston and parts of Florida from the two deadly storms, the president and some members of the Congressional Black Caucus are aggressively diving into the murky waters of separation of church and state issues.
They separately argue that Federal Emergency Management Agency – FEMA – should make relief funds available to houses of worship, especially if those institutions are involved in helping victims of disasters.
“They give churches so much red tape to go through to get public benefits,” Cedric Richmond, D-La., black caucus chairman, said of FEMA.
Houses of worship can get financial disaster assistance if their facilities are primarily used for “educational, utility, emergency, medical…custodial or essential services of a governmental nature,” according to FEMA guidelines.
Trump jumped into the church-state debate Friday when he tweeted that three small Texas churches that were damaged by Hurricane Harvey should be entitled to FEMA assistance to help rebuild. The churches filed a lawsuit in federal District Court against FEMA seeking help.
FEMA officials were not made available for comment Wednesday.