The new 113th Congress will convene Friday and House members will vote on a bill that would aid storm damaged states.
Under fire from fellow Republicans from Sandy-stricken New York and New Jersey, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, today agreed to hold two separate votes on storm relief including one vote on Friday to make about $9 billion available to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is running out of funds to pay Sandy flood claims.
Boehner promised that a second vote on supplemental disaster aid for states hit by Superstorm Sandy will be held on Jan. 15, the first day of the new 113th Congress.
Friday’s legislation would raise the cap on Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program’s Borrowing Authority.
The measure already passed the Senate and would increase the borrowing authority of the NFIP to help cover claims from Sandy from $20.7 billion to $30.4 billion, effective retroactively to Dec 12, 2012.
Dave Miller, FEMA’s associate administrator for the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, said in the statement that use of NFIP monies “are being closely monitored based on actual and anticipated claims.”
The House bill will propose to increase the NFIP borrowing cap from the current $20.775 billion to $30.4 billion. The increase was included in the request for $60.4 billion in aid sent to Congress by President Obama in early December.
Reports in early November said that FEMA had $7.8 billion in reserve funds during the Super Storm Sandy recovery. However, lawmakers were already saying back then that it was not enough for the cleanup:
“There will definitely have to be a supplemental” spending bill, said Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), who called the situation in his Jersey Shore district “catastrophic.” He said money in the current FEMA disaster relief fund is “not going to cover much at all.”
The legislation, which was introduced by Rep. Scott Garrett (R – NJ), is part of supplemental legislation the administration requested and submitted to Congress in December. The Senate passed legislation ,according to FEMA, included “$9.7 billion in additional borrowing authority to support the National Flood Insurance Fund to address claims resulting from Superstorm Sandy and other floods.”