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Temporary Increase in Borrowing Authority for National Flood Insurance Program

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. GARRETT. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

The list of cosponsors to this legislation submitted this morning should be treated as original cosponsors, reflecting their intent to, in fact, be on the legislation when it was introduced last night.

I rise today to continue the process of this House of seeking to aid and help those American citizens who have been devastated by Hurricane Sandy. This storm has left literally millions without power, thousands without homes, and the total area is destroyed.

So the piece of legislation before us today is very simple. It temporarily increases FEMA's borrowing authority for carrying out the National Flood Insurance Program. And so this legislation is really vital to ensure that the homeowners in my State of New Jersey, as well as in New York and Connecticut and any other affected areas, will be able to continue to have their contractual flood insurance policies with the NFIP honored.

So by temporarily increasing this borrowing authority, it will provide to both homeowners and insurance companies handling the claims that the Federal Government will meet its contractual obligations. People who have been devastated by the storm will be able to continue to move forward and onward with their lives.

I want to take a moment just to commend the gentleman from New York (Mr. Grimm), who led a group of Members and other volunteers to help clean and repair some of the devastated areas. I was pleased to personally join the gentleman in their volunteer activity.

While we witnessed much devastation and destruction, we also saw determination and friendly faces of local residents and volunteers from across the country who are committed to restoring and rebuilding this area.

So while it's easy for Members to come to the floor and vote for a piece of legislation to help the area, it's a lot more difficult to be on the ground physically working, scrubbing, lifting, building, and cleaning. And while the Congress can and does help, it is the hard work, the grit, and the determination of the citizens of the area and the volunteers and the workers from all over the country that will ultimately be the driving force in this area.

So to conclude, I again commend the gentleman from New York (Mr. Grimm) for his efforts, and the others around who have volunteered in this effort, and look forward to continue to work with him and others in the area, both here in Congress, for the people of New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut and the affected area.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. GARRETT. I thank the gentleman for his comments and also recognize that this legislation helps not only those people in his neck of the woods, but across the country, as we resume the money in the fund for FEMA and for the Flood Insurance Program.

I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Hensarling), the chairman of the Financial Services Committee.

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Mr. GARRETT. First of all, I yield myself 15 seconds just to set the record straight.

With regard to the legislation before us, which is a flood insurance program, the aid under this program is going and has been going to the recipients in the affected area because there was funding in this program before. What we're doing right now is to make sure that that aid will continue to go to those people who have contracts for insurance.

With that, I now yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from New York (Mr. Gibson), who also is very familiar with the devastation that was caused to constituents.

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Mr. GARRETT. Madam Speaker, I yield myself the remaining time.

In closing, I thank all of those who have come to the floor to address this situation.

For those of us who live in the affected area, our heart goes out to the families--the moms, the dads, the little children, the senior citizens--who have lost everything: homes that have just been inundated with water so they're not recognizable anymore; homes that have to be totally knocked down or homes that have to be totally refurbished, stripped down to their studs and started from the foundations back up again to rebuild them; homes that have been simply washed out to sea and will never be seen again; homes that have been destroyed; trees that have crashed through homes; electricity that has been out for weeks. Our heart goes out to the people who have suffered so much and for so long and who continue to suffer.

I commend Members from both sides of the aisle for coming to the floor today to support this legislation.

I also thank those people, the volunteers, who took it upon themselves without any government mandate or edict or pay, or what have you, to go out and to rescue these people and to work for these people day in and day out--from the very beginning, the OEM people, the management people, the fire department, the rescue squad, and just rank-and-file folks who came out and tried to help and continue to do so. They've run the food banks, groups liked Samaritan's Purse. They've been out there on the front lines and have supported these people in their hours of need.

And I extend an invitation to every single Member of Congress who has come to the floor and said that they, too, support these people, to put on their work shoes and their work boots and their jackets and to get out of this Congress and to get out of this city and to go into the affected area, and not just give speeches and not just pass legislation of other people's money, but to actually come to our State and to join us in the field and actually do the work that's necessary to get done. And so I extend that invitation to each and every one, and I look forward to hearing from each and every one of you, and I ask for your support of this legislation.

I extend an invitation to Ms. Waters to work further on the legislation with regard to flood insurance because we heard the number earlier--this is a nonsustainable program. We're taking in something like 75 cents and we're paying out about a buck in claims. That can't go on. We need to work together on this, and I look forward to that, and I look for a ``yes'' vote on this legislation.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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