S. 3677 would authorize the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to cover the costs of crisis counseling for people affected by emergencies declared under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act when those services are paid for by local governments. Under current law, such federal assistance is only available in areas where the President has declared a major disaster under that act.
Emergencies are typically declared for events that are less severe than major disasters; accordingly, FEMA approves fewer types of assistance and usually awards smaller amounts for emergencies than for major disasters. Over the 2019-2021 period, the President declared 174 emergencies but in only one of those events did FEMA provide aid (about $1 million) to individuals and households under the Individual Assistance (IA) Program. Over that same period, the President declared 227 major disasters, and for about half of those events, the agency provided a total of $6.1 billion to individuals and households under the IA Program. As part of that assistance for major disasters, FEMA provided funding to state and local governments for counseling services, including about $30 million in 2021.
For this estimate, CBO expects that FEMA would award counseling assistance for emergencies at roughly the same proportion, relative to the total amounts provided under the IA program, as it has for major disasters. On that basis, CBO estimates that, under S. 3677, FEMA would provide an additional $3 million in crisis counseling assistance over the 2022-2032 period, or about 1 percent of the $300 million of such assistance that CBO projects the agency will provide for major disasters over the next decade.