Congress has agreed to boost the borrowing power of the federal flood-insurance agency, which is fast running out of money needed to meet some 225,000 claims from Katrina and Rita.That’s a little different from what I said before.
The legislation, passed by voice vote in the Senate late Thursday, allows the National Flood Insurance Program to borrow up to $20.8 billion from the Treasury, up from the current ceiling of $18.5 billion.
Here’s a revised breakdown of money Congress has “committed to rebuild the Gulf Coast”:
* September 2, 2005 – Bush signs $10.5 billion disaster relief billTotal to date, including insurance borrowing: $88 billion.
* September 8, 2005 – Bush signs $51.8 billion disaster relief bill
* December 31, 2005 – Bush signs defense bill which includes $29 billion in hurricane aid, of which $5 billion is new funds and $24 billion diverted from the already authorized $62 billion.
* March 16, 2006 – House of Representatives passes bill with $19.1 billion in hurricane spending. That's not a final number, yet.
* March 16, 2006 – Congress raises NFIP borrowing limit to pay flood insurance claims to $20.8 billion.
Total to date, not including insurance borrowing: $67 billion. That number hasn’t changed since December.
When the Senate passes the new spending bill, add the final number to both totals.
On the horizon:
Also on Thursday, the House Financial Services Committee approved a bill to improve the financial viability of the NFIP by giving FEMA greater authority to raise rates and increasing fines for non-enforcement of the mandatory purchase requirement. The measure would also increase the program's borrowing authority to $25 billion.