Niagara Gazette

Local News

January 4, 2013

Congress approves $9.7 billion in Sandy flood aid

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — It was a more temperate response than was heard earlier in the week, when a livid Christie blistered House Republicans and Boehner himself for holding up the aid and other GOP figures from the region, as well as Democrats, cried "betrayal."

All of the "no" votes in the House were cast by Republicans, who said other government programs should have been cut to pay for the measure. As with past natural disasters, the Sandy aid proposals do not provide for offsetting spending cuts, meaning the aid comes at the cost of higher deficits.

The bill gives more authority to the National Flood Insurance Program to borrow money from the U.S. Treasury to pay claims. Premiums average about $625 per year and residential claims under the program average nearly $30,000.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., a fiscal conservative who voted against the flood bill, said he was among those with concerns it would add to huge budget deficits. "We have to talk seriously about offsets," Huelskamp said. "We can't take $60 billion off budget, that's my problem with it."

The Club For Growth, a conservative group, urged lawmakers to oppose the flood insurance bill. "Congress should not allow the federal government to be involved in the flood insurance industry in the first place, let alone expand the national flood insurance program's authority," the group said in a statement.

Among those with a pending flood insurance claim is Philip Rock in New Jersey. Rock has gotten $8,000 in flood insurance payments so far on a house he rents out in Toms River that was destroyed. He expects to receive much more from his $220,000 insurance policy but can't level the house until he knows the final payout.

"We don't want to demolish the house and have them say, 'We have to go around and take more pictures,'" Rock said.

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