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Public Statements

National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Unknown

Mrs. BIGGERT. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the Senate amendment to H.R. 5740, the National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act. As my colleagues know, the NFIP is set to expire on May 31. This program provides vital flood insurance coverage to homeowners in flood-prone communities.

Just 2 weeks ago, we passed a 30-day extension, H.R. 5740, to spare property owners and the housing market from another lapse in the NFIP. That bill was approved by this Chamber on May 17 by a vote of 402 18.

The Senate has since amended our legislation, extending the authorization for an additional 30 days, for a total of 60 days, or until July 31. The Senate amendment also eliminates subsidized rates for second and vacation homes. According to an unofficial Congressional Budget Office staff estimate, this provision will generate approximately $2 billion to $2.5 billion over 10 years.

Although not identical, the Senate's reform provision mirrors section 5 of H.R. 1309, the 5-year flood reform bill that we in the House passed with overwhelming bipartisan support last July. And if any technical changes are needed, they can be addressed in any long-term reform measure that we consider in the coming weeks.

On that note, I am pleased to report that, as part of reaching an agreement on this extension, Senate leaders have offered their public and private assurances that they will vote this June on the long-term flood insurance reform. This agreement is a major breakthrough for those of us who have been
pushing for the Senate passage of the long-term bill since the House completed its work nearly 11 months ago. The Senate Banking Committee has already approved a bipartisan NFIP proposal, and I remain confident that the House and Senate can reconcile any differences that remain between our respective visions for reform.

Mr. Speaker, the NFIP is over $17 billion in debt to taxpayers, and since 2008 Congress has enacted 16 stopgap measures to keep the program running. Today's bill can and should be the last short-term extension, because this program is too important to let lapse and too in debt to continue without reform. Today's bill not only prevents a lapse, it brings us closer to a responsible long-term solution. And the sooner we accomplish this goal, the sooner taxpayers can stop bearing the full expense and risk of an outdated flood program.

With that, I would urge my colleagues to support the Senate amendment to H.R. 5740, and I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mrs. BIGGERT. I yield myself the balance of my time.

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned earlier, this bill is the 17th short-term extension of the National Flood Insurance Program. Our colleagues in the Senate have assured us that in June they will take up the version of a long-term NFIP reauthorization and reform bill, so I am confident that this will be our last short-term extension.

H.R. 5740, with the Senate amendment, extends the program for an additional 2 months in order to protect homeowners, communities in flood-prone areas, and the housing market. Including at least one reform provision in H.R. 5740--to eliminate subsidized rates for second and vacation homes--reduces some of the NFIP's risk to taxpayers.

H.R. 5740 also buys the House and Senate 2 more months to finalize a larger bill to reauthorize the 5 years and reform the National Flood Insurance Program.

Eleven months ago, over 400 Members of the House from both sides of the aisle voted for H.R. 1309 to reform this program. Actually, the reform bill passed out of the Financial Services Committee 54 0. So this is a real bipartisan effort. The House also has approved the same 5-year NFIP reauthorization and reform bill as part of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 in December, and as part of the Reconciliation Act that was passed a couple of weeks ago.

Again, earlier this month over 400 Members of the House voted for the first version of H.R. 5740 to ensure that NFIP doesn't lapse. NFIP is over $17 billion in debt to taxpayers and it cannot continue without reforms, but shouldn't lapse, particularly at the start of the hurricane season, which begins this week on June 1.

With that, I urge my colleagues to again support H.R. 5740.

Finally, I would really like to thank Ms. Waters for cosponsoring this bill as the lead cosponsor and Mr. Scott from Georgia for managing time for the other side and all other Members on both sides of the aisle. We've had a really great turnout for the NFIP reform effort.

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