Today, the House passed The Flood Insurance Reform Priorities Act (H.R. 5114), which included an amendment authored by Congressman Scott Murphy (NY-20). The amendment comes on the heels of news that FEMA employees charged nearly $250,000 in improper payments on FEMA credit cards. It will require that all funds authorized under this legislation be spent in a manner consistent with the manual on Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch.
"We need to continue to seek out and remove waste, fraud or abuse found in our government programs," said Rep. Murphy. "We need to ensure that federal employees are not abusing a system put in place to help victims of natural disasters. Good government begins with our being good stewards of taxpayer dollars, and I will continue to fight to eliminate waste and abuse from current and future programs."
According to the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General, $247,100 in "improper" expenses was made on FEMA credit cards. For example, employees used FEMA credit cards to buy $4,318 in "Happy Birthday" gift cards, 360 golf umbrellas ($9,000), and other employees used funds allocated for disaster relief in Oklahoma to buy 19 portable ceramic heaters for the office ($1,098).
The Flood Insurance Reform Priorities Act reauthorizes the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), established over 40 years ago, to meet the needs of the 21st century. It raises maximum coverage limits for the first time since 1994, providing stronger protections for families threatened by flooding. The bill also delays the mandatory requirement to purchase insurance for five years in areas only recently declared as a flood zone, a provision Murphy worked with Congressman Maurice Hinchey (NY-22) to include in this legislation.
The Flood Insurance Reform Act has been endorsed by numerous organizations, including the National Association of Realtors, the National Association of Homebuilders, the American Insurance Association, the Property Casualty Insurers Association, and the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America.