U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) today sent a letter to U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) asking her to include legislation written by Congressman Bill Cassidy (R-La.) in the Senate appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security. Cassidy's amendment would help to prevent potentially dramatic flood insurance rate increases by preventing part of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 from being implemented. Landrieu is Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security.
"Congressman Cassidy's amendment passed the U.S. House of Representatives with broad bipartisan support, so at a minimum we should include it word for word in the Senate Homeland Security appropriations bill to ensure it is signed into law," Vitter said. "As representatives for Louisiana, it's our responsibility to ensure that our constituents are not adversely impacted by the Biggert-Waters Act and ensure a strong and sustainable National Flood Insurance Program."
Vitter, a member of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, was able to secure a commitment from the Committee Chairman and Ranking Member to plan a flood hearing with FEMA Director Craig Fugate. Vitter also introduced legislation with U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) to make reforms to the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 to ensure responsible implementation and avoid potentially drastic flood insurance rate increases.
A copy of Vitter's letter is below.
June 14, 2013
The Honorable Mary Landrieu
Senate Committee on Appropriations
Subcommittee on Homeland Security
703 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Chairwoman Landrieu:
On behalf of our constituents across Louisiana, I write to you today regarding the need for Senate action to prevent drastic increases to flood insurance rates.
As you know, during consideration of H.R.2217, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2014, Congressman Bill Cassidy was successful in attaching H.Amdt.121 to prevent implementation of Section 207 of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. This amendment will provide time to address FEMA's bungled implementation of the 2012 law so that we can achieve a self-sustaining flood insurance program while simultaneously keeping rates at an affordable level for home and business owners. The Cassidy Amendment passed the House with wide bipartisan support, including that of all six members of the Louisiana delegation.
I write to request very specifically that Congressman Cassidy's amendment be included verbatim in the Senate appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security that you will draft. This will make it a virtual certainty that this language, having been in both the relevant House and Senate bills, is included in any final bill or continuing resolution that is passed into law.
Of course, this would not preclude your also including additional helpful language in the Senate bill that you will draft. I would urge you to consider elements of both your and my stand-alone bills in that regard. But it is imperative that Congress first call this much needed time-out on this phase of implementation of the Biggert-Waters Act. I see it as our responsibility and a huge opportunity to advance the amendment the House has already passed.
I know you agree that we have a responsibility to ensure that our constituents are not adversely impacted by the Biggert-Waters Act when its true intention was to strengthen the National Flood Insurance Program and remove the threat of the program's expiration. I have always and will continue to support a fiscally responsible and sustainable National Flood Insurance Program that protects homeowners and businesses. However, reforms must be implemented in a workable and reasonable way that does not drive rates to unsustainable levels.
I agree with the many Parish Presidents and local elected officials I have spoken with that these rapid increases in rates are the result in significant part to FEMA's flawed methodology in redesigning flood maps. That is one key area where we should focus our attention once we secure the delay in rates the H.Amdt.121 achieves.
Thank you for your attention to this very important matter.