Bill blocking some FEMA debt collection advances

Legislation aimed at stopping the government from asking disaster victims to pay back millions of dollars in improper aid payments has received committee approval and been sent to the Senate.

The Senate Homeland Security Committee voted 8-1 Thursday to approve the Disaster Assistance Recoupment Fairness Act.

Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor drafted the bill that would let the Federal Emergency Management Agency waive debts in cases involving its own errors. It also would require FEMA to waive debts for people who should have been ineligible for aid because their communities do not participate in a federal flood insurance program.

According to documents obtained by the Associated Press, FEMA is asking for about $22 million back from more than 5,500 people who were affected by 129 separate disasters since 2005.