Philly congressman jumps to increase disaster spending

Jennifer Hing, a spokeswoman for Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), said the funding is not needed yet. 

“This is premature. FEMA is still conducting preliminary estimates, and there is no indication that FEMA will need additional funds at this time. Congress fully funded the Disaster Relief Fund [DRF] at $7.1 billion in September,” she said. 

The new fiscal year began Oct. 1, making Hurricane Sandy the first big disaster of the year. Under the August 2011 debt-ceiling deal, funds in the DRF can be increased to about $11 billion without violating the discretionary spending cap, if the administration requests the aid. 

While the total economic impact of the hurricane is not yet known, Eqecat, which monitors such events, said that it could be about $20 billion, half of that insured. The cost to the government would be less. 

Fattah’s office said it came up with $12 billion in extra funding based in part on the $20 billion initial estimate for total damage. 

"Costs may go higher than $12 billion – and we’re anticipating FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security as the umbrella for federal response. Funding will certainly extend to NOAA, the Army Corps of Engineers, other federal agencies, and for reimbursement of cash-starved state and local governments. Katrina ended up costing FEMA $40 billion," spokesman Ron Goldwyn said. 

Fattah plans to introduce the bill during a special pro forma session of Congress on Friday. 

Under the looming fiscal cliff, FEMA's budget will be cut by $882 million in January as part of a $109 billion sequester unless Congress acts to avert the cuts.