The White House will request nearly $30 billion in hurricane aid from Congress to fund disaster relief and bail out federal flood insurance programs, according to reports.
President Donald Trump’s desired aid bill, which has not been publicly released, includes $13 billion for hurricane relief funds for areas like Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, and eliminates around $16 billion of debt from the National Flood Insurance Program, the Associated Press reports.
Puerto Rico’s recovery from Hurricane Maria will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and though Congress approved provisional funding for disaster relief in September, a lot more money is needed to rebuild after a devastating hurricane season.
“This is going to be extraordinarily expensive, and I think we need to get some money out there,” New Jersey Republican Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen told the AP.
Congress approved $15 billion in disaster relief funding Sept. 7, nearly double the administration’s requested $7 billion in preliminary funding, in a deal that incorporated an increase to the debt ceiling and a continuance on federal funding.
“Remember, this is emergency money. You’ve got to deal with the problem,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters. “So I think we’ll be able to get this done.”
“I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack,” Trump told a crowd in Puerto Rico on Tuesday. “But that’s fine because we’ve saved a lot of lives.”
The National Flood Insurance Program, which has a borrowing cap set at $30 billion, was already more than $24 billion in debt before the hurricanes started this year, and critics of the program say it wastes federal dollars by paying out claims on homes that get repeatedly flooded by harsh storms.
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