Churches and other houses of worship are now eligible for funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to restore buildings damaged by natural disasters.
Congress included the measure in its budget bill approved in February, placing a new interpretation of FEMA policy into federal law.
Three Texas churches and two Florida synagogues challenged their exclusion from federal assistance after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma damaged their facilities. In December, the U.S. Supreme Court asked FEMA to reconsider its longstanding policy.
By January, FEMA issued a new interpretation of its policy, stating it would no longer exclude houses of worship from its aid, which includes provision for debris removal and emergency protection.
FEMA cited a June 2017 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, that made churches eligible to participate in government programs with secular purposes.
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