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Terrorism Risk Insurance Revision and Extension Act of 2007

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

TERRORISM RISK INSURANCE REVISION AND EXTENSION ACT OF 2007 -- (House of Representatives - September 19, 2007)


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to this. My friend from North Dakota said in the debate a minute ago that the minority doesn't want the government to help business. That was kind of an odd characterization. Here's what the minority wants: We want Congress to keep its word. And what do I mean when I say that? In the beginning of this Congress, Congress said that they were going to pay for things as they go. We were going to have this vaunted PAYGO rule that when we commit new spending, we will pay for it. We won't do deficit spending. What does this bill do? This bill thumbs its nose at the PAYGO system.

I think the best description of how this bill is not paid for was written in Congress Daily this morning, and I quote: ``The House will take up legislation today to renew the Federal Government's Terrorism Risk Insurance Program despite concerns that it violates PAYGO rules. CBO has ruled that the bill, which would reauthorize and expand the program for 15 years and cost the Federal government $3.7 billion over 5 years, $10.4 billion over a 10-year period. House leaders pulled the bill last week because it carried no offsets, but Democratic leaders found a way around the problem by requiring that if an attack occurred, Congress would have to vote again in a fast-track procedure to release the funds contained in the bill.'' Well, to do it justice, it's about $8.4 billion net cost, just to set the record straight for the minority.

What they're basically doing here is they're declaring this an emergency when an emergency hasn't even occurred yet. They're basically declaring this emergency spending, outside of the budget rules, not paid for, $8.4 billion, before an emergency has even occurred.

I've seen gimmicks in my day, Mr. Chairman, but this one takes the cake. This violates PAYGO. If it doesn't do it technically, it sure does it in spirit. So if we're going to say we're going to pay for legislation, then, by golly, let's pay for legislation. This doesn't do that. Not to mention the fact that this crowds out the private sector. Not to mention the fact that this tells all the insurers, go ahead and release this insurance, and if a terrorist attack occurs, we'll have some emergency legislation that pays for it after the fact. It's kind of like telling the homeowner, you don't have to pay premiums on your insurance until after your house has been burnt down, then pay your premiums and then we'll give you your payback. It doesn't work like that. That's not how insurance works. That's not how taxpayers pay their bills. That's not how Congress should operate. And, more importantly, that is not the rules that this Congress said it would operate under.

This violates those rules. If not technically, it sure does so in spirit. And I think when Congress says it's a new day, that we're going to pay for our spending, by golly, that's exactly what Congress ought to do, and that is not what this Congress is doing.

For this and many other reasons, Mr. Chairman, this legislation is flawed. It should be defeated. It encourages a crowding out of the private sector. And more importantly, it doesn't pay for the promises that are being committed here today. That is wrong. That violates the rhetoric and the principles that the majority has set out for itself.

Mr. Chairman, I urge a ``no'' vote.


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