Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz says the House will allocate $22 million to fund a technical investigation of the Surfside condo collapse last month, which claimed the lives of at least 98 people.
That funding is being inserted into the House’s Fiscal Year 2022 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, which still must clear the House and Senate. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will conduct the investigation. That body has overseen similar investigations into the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center and Hurricane Maria’s impact on Puerto Rico.
Wasserman Schultz sits on the House Appropriations Committee and advocated for the $22 million as part of that committee. She represents Florida’s 23rd Congressional District, which encompasses parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties, including the site of the condo collapse.
“Over a month after the deadly collapse, our community is still in shock,” Wasserman Schultz said Monday in a statement on the funding.
“While we are still in the process of mourning all those lost, we’re simultaneously trying to assess just how widespread the issue may be. In South Florida and all across the United States, there are thousands of condos just like Champlain Towers, and we simply don’t know how many could have similar structural issues.”
The study will aim to answer those questions. According to a release from Wasserman Schultz’s office, the study will work “to understand the sources of failure, to provide recommendations for how to rectify any shortcomings in existing building standards in order to prevent future similar disasters and to inform future building codes for similar structures.”
Wasserman Schultz’s office says the House is readying to vote on the overall funding bill later this week. The legislation must then be approved by the Senate.
“The NIST investigation will be key to determining the scope of the issue and give us a roadmap to prevent similar catastrophes in new and existing buildings,” Wasserman Schultz added.
“I’m proud to have had the support of my colleagues to secure the necessary funding to allow NIST to conduct such a thorough and necessary investigation in Surfside.”
The June 24 collapse has triggered questions regarding how the building deteriorated to the point of collapse. Families grieved throughout the recovery process as emergency workers dug through the rubble to remove the bodies of loved ones.
With that phase now complete, state and federal entities will move forward with assessing the causes of the collapse and considering changes in the law to better maintain buildings going forward.