After First Amendment challenge, FEMA may pay Texas churches to rebuild after Hurricane Harvey

By Edgar Walters

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Debris from Harvey flooding is removed from a Port Arthur neighborhood on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. (Courtesy Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune)

Texas churches and other religious institutions damaged by Hurricane Harvey now have a chance to secure federal disaster recovery funds thanks to a new policy unveiled by the Federal Emergency Management Agency this week.

The change is being applauded by state leaders and churches that had been pushing for access to the funds. Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton said FEMA’s shift “averts the federal government violating the constitutional rights of those who continue to play a vital role in helping Texans get back on their feet after Hurricane Harvey.”

Paxton and Gov. Greg Abbott, also a Republican, had urged President Donald Trump to make the policy change in September.

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