Sunday, March 19, 2006

Rebuilding the Gulf Coast with Flood Claims

New numbers:

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.

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.
That’s a little different from what I said before.

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 bill

* 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, including insurance borrowing: $88 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.

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