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Public Statements

Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mrs. BIGGERT. I thank the chairman for giving me this time.

Madam Speaker, I rise in support of this conference report and wish to address particularly title II, which would reauthorize for 5 years the National Flood Insurance Program, or NFIP.

There are six important reforms included in this bill: It improves NFIP's financial stability; it will reduce the burden on taxpayers; it restores integrity to the FEMA mapping system; it will help bring certainty to the housing market through a 5-year reauthorization; and last, it explores ways to increase private market participation.

Many of us in Congress would like for the private sector, instead of taxpayers, to shoulder the risk of the National Flood Insurance Program. Market participants have signaled that they can assume the risk of flood insurance. And with the appropriate data from FEMA, the reinsurance industry has indicated that within weeks it can price this risk. That's why, for the first time in the NFIP's existence, this flood reform measure will require FEMA to solicit bids to determine the cost to the private sector, not to the taxpayer, of bearing the risk of flood insurance.

Finally, I'd just like to say that this bill is proof that bipartisanship is possible, particularly when it comes to an issue of national significance, such as the most frequently occurring national disaster in the United States, flooding. When a flood occurs, it does not choose an area that has Republican or Democrat leanings or elected officials. Floods affect most of the country and people of all walks of life. Today's flood reform measure demonstrates the democratic process, where reforms are publicly vetted, reflect input from interested stakeholders, and are realized.

Let me just thank the bill's cosponsor, Ms. Waters, as well as Chairman Bachus and the Financial Services Insurance Subcommittee and full committee staffs on both sides of the aisle. Let me just say also that I'd like to thank the Senate and House leadership, including Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor, as well as the thousands of constituents and groups who gave their valuable time and input to making this a very good bill.

I rise in support of this Conference Report, and I wish to address in particular Title II, which would reauthorize for five years the National Flood Insurance Program or NFIP.

There are six important reforms included in this bill:

It improves NFIP's financial stability; it will reduce the burden on taxpayers; it restores integrity to the FEMA mapping system; it will help bring certainty to the housing market through a 5-year reauthorization; and last, it explores ways to increase private market participation.

Many of us in Congress would like for the private-sector--instead of taxpayers--to shoulder the risk of the National Flood Insurance Program. Market participants have signaled that they can assume the risk of flood insurance, and with the appropriate data from FEMA, the reinsurance industry has indicated that--within weeks--it can price this risk.

That's why, for the first time in the NFIP's existence, this flood reform measure will require FEMA to solicit bids to determine the cost to the private sector, not to the taxpayer, of bearing the risk of flood insurance.

It brings an end to the decades-old, chicken-and-egg game that has characterized the program by finally answering the question ``how-do-we-get-the-government-out?''

Flood policyholders also now will have the option to choose private flood insurance over government flood insurance without the risk of lender rejection. Taxpayer-subsidized rates are eliminated, so that the private sector can offer consumers increasingly competitive rates as compared to the NFIP.

Finally, I would like to simply say that this bill is proof that bipartisanship is possible, particularly when it comes to an issue of national significance, such as the most frequently occurring natural disaster in the United States, flooding. When a flood occurs, it does not choose an area due to its Republican or Democrat leanings or elected representatives. Floods affect most of the country and people of all walks of life. Today's flood reform measure demonstrates a true, democratic process, where reforms are publically vetted, reflect input from interested stakeholders, and are realized.

With that, I will note that this conference report includes the first significant reform to the NFIP in nearly a decade. After 17 extensions since 2008, multiple lapses in the program, and months of inaction, this flood insurance reform measure is a major bipartisan accomplishment. As I've said from the beginning, the NFIP is too important to let lapse and too in debt to continue without reform. I urge my House--and Senate--colleagues to support the conference report so that we can send this agreement to the President's desk and put the nation's flood insurance program back on a sound financial footing.

In closing, let me thank the bill's cosponsor, Mrs. Waters, as well as Chairman Baucus, Financial Services Insurance Subcommittee and full committee staffs on both sides of the aisle, Senate and House Leadership, including Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor, as well as the thousands of constituents and groups who gave their valuable time and input to making this a very good bill.

I would also like to thank the following:

My constituents in the 13th Congressional District of Illinois who provided advice to us throughout the development of this bill;

Illinois floodplain managers, Paul Osman and Sally McConkey;

Mrs. Waters, Chairman Bachus, and all of the 54 Members of the House Financial Services Committee who voted unanimously to pass out of Committee a flood reform bill last May (2011);

All of the Members of the House who contributed to the development of this bill, and the 406 Members of the House who voted for H.R. 1309 last July (2011);

Republican House Financial Services Committee staff: my designee, Nicole Austin, as well as Clinton Jones, Ed Skala, Tallman Johnson, Jim Clinger, and Eric Thompson;

Democrat House Financial Services Committee staff: Charla Ouertatani, Dom McCoy, and Kelly Larkin;

House Republican and Democrat leadership, particularly Speaker BOEHNER and Majority Leader CANTOR, and their staff;

Members and staff on the Science, Judiciary, and Rules Committees;

Senators and Senate Banking Committee staff;

Dan Hoople with the Congressional Budget Office;

Paul Callen and his colleagues at the House Office of the Legislative Counsel;

FEMA staff, including technical experts, congressional affairs, and Vince Fabrizio;

Witnesses who testified during our hearings on flood reform; and

All of the various financial services organizations, consumer groups, as well as the Smarter Safer Coalition, which includes groups from the National Wildlife Federation to the International Code Council to Americans for Tax Reform.

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