Stafford Act declaration and the Gulf oil spill

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Amy Major, a senior law and policy analyst with the Center for Health and Homeland Security at the University of Maryland, said a disaster declaration under the Stafford Act would trigger many of the same responses that the federal government already has launched — from efforts to clean up the spill to low-interest loans by the Small Business Administration.

Major also said that Congress stripped rental and housing assistance out of the Stafford Act in 2000.

Although the Stafford Act was designed primarily for natural disasters, Major said she believes something like the oil spill could warrant a disaster declaration because of its size and scope.

"We feel at this point, it’s a great enough magnitude that if it does not qualify, it’s on the hairy edge of qualifying," she said.

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