The Senate on Friday approved a $60.4 billion supplemental package to provide additional aid for northeast states hit by Superstorm Sandy that includes an increase in the borrowing authority of the federal flood insurance program.
The measure increases the borrowing authority of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to help cover claims from Superstorm Sandy from $20.7 billion to $30.4 billion, effective retroactively to Dec 12, 2012.
The $60.4 billion measure passed the Senate in a 62-32 bipartisan vote.
The Senate voted down an amendment by Sen. Dan Coats, R- Ind., to lower the aid amount to $24 billion. Coats said the measure should focus on immediate needs.
“An emergency funding bill should focus on the emergency needs of the victims, not the needs of politicians,” said Coats. “Loading up a massive $60.4 billion package with unrelated projects and earmarks for other states is not the way we should use taxpayer dollars to fund Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.”
The House of Representatives has not acted on the measure. Some House Republicans also want to lower the amount.
The current Congress has until Jan. 3, when the new Congress will be sworn in.
Democratic Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, Senate majority leader, urged the House to act quickly to approve the Senate bill.
“State and federal authorities have worked together effectively to help the victims, but more help is needed for the recovery to continue. This bill provides those additional resources,” said Reid.
“There is no time to waste, and the House should act immediately. Congress must continue its long-standing tradition of helping our fellow Americans in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Time is of the essence for the millions of Americans who rely on this aid to rebuild their lives.”
Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., whose state was among the hardest hit, also urged lawmakers to act quickly.
“Sandy was a devastating storm that hit the most heavily populated part of our country. Approval of this assistance must not be postponed any further by the partisan gridlock in Washington; federal flood assistance, for example, would only be able to approve one-tenth of the anticipated claims unless this bill is passed,” Maloney said.