Senate passes bill to provide disaster relief, flood insurance forgiveness

Register now

WASHINGTON – The Senate approved a $36.5 billion emergency supplement appropriations bill Tuesday to provide disaster relief for areas hit by hurricanes and wildfires.

It represents the second disaster relief bill passed this year and Congress is already gearing up to approve a third disaster relief bill in mid-November.

White House officials have "made a commitment to me that there will be another funding request in mid-November that will include Texas hurricane relief," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, Tuesday prior to the vote on the appropriations bill Tuesday.

"It is clear to me that Texas will need significant additional federal aid for our recovery efforts," Cornyn said.

The full Senate approved the disaster relief bill by an 82-17 vote.

The House already passed the measure and it includes $16 billion in debt forgiveness for the National Flood Insurance Program. The disaster relief bill now goes to President Trump for his signature.

In Florida, people are not getting the assistance they need, according to Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

"One month after the hurricane in Puerto Rico and two months after the hurricane in Florida, the aftermath is not going so swimmingly," Nelson said during Tuesday's debate on the emergency supplemental bill.

He noted that many people are still without power and they are not receiving financial assistance and food from the Federal Emergency Manage Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Florida senator also complained that FEMA has been slow in bringing in manufactured homes homes into Florida.

Meanwhile, people are stuck living in damaged homes with mold and mildew. And many don’t have any place to go or income to get a room in a hotel.

They are "forced to wait for a FEMA inspector so they can get qualified for the assistance they are due under the law," Nelson said. And there seems to be shortage of inspectors.

"I am told that FEMA has increased the number of housing inspectors. But this process has got to be expedited," Nelson said.

Although lenders don’t usually get involved in the legislative process for funding hurricane relief, banks do benefit from the assistance their clients and communities receive.

“Disaster assistance to help the states and U.S. territories is critical to helping these communities recover," said Sarah Grano, a spokeswoman at the American Bankers Association.

"With the help of the public and private sectors, along with contributions from millions around the world, these communities will be able to get on the road to recovery.”

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.
Natural disasters Disaster recovery Flood insurance