NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy believes members of Congress will lay aside their partisan labels and approve emergency funding for victims of Harvey. But he also wants the federal government to get tougher on enforcing certain rules relating to federally backed mortgages and flood insurance.
Cassidy toured the National Weather Service office just outside of New Orleans Thursday.
"Very favorable. One, I've spoken very personally to the vice president, to three different Cabinet secretaries. All have said that whatever is needed, they're pledged to working with Congress to deliver, and we in Louisiana know that there but for the grace of God go we," said Cassidy.
Harvey's destruction happened as Congress is facing a fast-approaching deadline to re-authorize the National Flood Insurance Program that expires Sept. 30.
Cassidy is sponsoring a bill to re-authorize the program, along with a New York Democrat.
"So a conservative and a liberal Democrat of two states that have felt the wrath of terrible storms, and we think we have a bill that will help increase the affordability, sustainability and accountability of the program. We have, for example, $400 million a year to go to flood mitigation. A stitch in time saves nine. We think we now get the Texans to support us, why wouldn't they, right?" Cassidy stated.
But getting people to buy flood coverage remains a challenge. Louisiana, which has a population of about 4.7 million, had 491,316 policies in effect through June 30 of this year, according to FEMA data.
In neighboring Texas, which has a population of 28 million, the number of flood insurance policies through the same period was 593,000.
Specifically in Harris County,Texas, which includes Houston, there were a little over 249,000 flood policies in effect, but according to the Census Bureau, there were more than 1.7 million housing units.
"The program is effectively bankrupt, and they a line on the U.S. Treasury to the extent that it's authorized to replenish the program. My hunch is that there will be some replenishment," said Jim Spiro of Morgan Stanley.
And Cassidy wants FEMA to do more to and for certain rules.
"Hoping that this will bring renewed attention to the need for the federal government to enforce the law. If you're in a flood plain, you need to protect that federally backed mortgage for flood insurance," he said.