Legislation co-sponsored by Congressman Tim Bishop aimed at speeding the payment of federal flood insurance claims to victims of Hurricane Sandy was passed on Friday, January 4 by the House of Representatives.
GOP Leadership scheduled the vote for Friday after intense bipartisan criticism erupted when the Republican majority chose not to vote on a Hurricane Sandy relief package earlier in the week on the last day of the 112th Congress.
The legislation temporarily increases the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s borrowing authority by $9.7 billion for carrying out the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). This is the same increase in borrowing authority included in the administration’s Sandy Disaster Relief request submitted to Congress on December 7.
This relief will ensure the NFIP is able to pay claims for 115,000 homes and business owners flooded out by Sandy. Last week, FEMA announced that payment of the claims would be delayed until Congress increased the borrowing authority of the program and that funds available to pay flood insurance claims would be exhausted by this week without approval for additional borrowing.
“Today’s action is a down payment on the federal aid Long Island and the Northeast deserve in the wake of the second worst natural disaster in our nation’s history,” said Bishop. “However, it is only a small part of what is necessary to rebuild our communities and has been delayed far too long for ideological and partisan reasons.”
According to Bishop’s office, nearly 140,000 flood insurance claims have been made to date, resulting in more than $1.7 billion in payments for Sandy survivors.
On December 28, the Senate passed a $60.4 billion Sandy Disaster Relief package by a bipartisan vote of 62 to 32 with 12 Senate Republicans voting for passage. Additional appropriations for storm relief are scheduled to be debated in the House starting next week.
“House leadership seems to have realized that further delay is unacceptable in the face of the suffering caused by Sandy,” said Bishop. “I will continue to fight on a bipartisan basis for the support we need not only to recover but to protect our communities from future disasters.”