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Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act of 2007

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. ROSKAM. I thank the gentlewoman for yielding.

Mr. Chairman, have you ever walked by a construction site? When they are putting up big buildings, it is really a sight to behold. And you look down at the foundation upon which they are building. If they are building the house right, they are putting it on a foundation of absolute bedrock. As you are watching them put it together, they are bringing in large pieces of concrete and steel. They are putting it down ever so slowly, ever so slowly, because when they finally put it down on the foundation, it is not going to move again. That is why they are very, very careful.

I think today we are missing an opportunity to build on a solid foundation. We have an opportunity to fix a failed and struggling program, and that is the National Flood Insurance Program. That is not bedrock. It is peat moss. It is very, very soft stuff. It has an $18 billion liability right now.

Unfortunately, rather than dealing with the flood component, what is happening is that an additional liability is being placed on a program that doesn't have a solid foundation. We are giving additional responsibility in this bill to FEMA without any substantive reforms of FEMA. I know that over the past years, FEMA has been subject to and receives a great deal of criticism with the way in which it conducted itself following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

I think that the lost opportunity here is a sad thing. The vast majority, not the overwhelming majority, but the vast majority of claims have been settled in the previous conflict, and now here we have got the chance to fix the flood program. My district wants a flood program that is dynamic and vibrant and solvent and based on a good foundation.

As was previously mentioned, the GAO has put the NFIP on a watch list, and yet we are entrusting the NFIP with the new responsibility. That we ought not do.


Mr. ROSKAM. Mr. Chairman, I find it ironic, actually, that this amendment, which has its merits, is being advanced, but that other amendments that are sort of similarly situated weren't placed in order. For example, this amendment says that in 9 months the GAO is going to be charged with the responsibility, essentially, of looking back for the past 9 months and looking at the impact on State insurance programs. Great. Really no argument there.

But if looking back is a good idea, isn't looking forward a good idea too? Isn't a prospective look forward at the possibility something that we ought to be doing?

I just find it concerning that we're willing to put a potential program, put the brakes on a potential program and be reflective, when we, at this very moment in time, as we sit here today, as we stand here today, we have the opportunity to accomplish this task by asking the GAO to look forward and look at the impact of this. This is part of the amendments that were, unfortunately, ruled out of order and were not allowed to be brought to the House and we're going to be denied an opportunity to have an up or down vote on the wind program, as Mr. Hensarling had suggested in his amendment. And yet we're being told, well, you know what, take a glance back after 9 months and let's sort of see how we're doing. And, oh, by the way, we tend to ignore what the GAO says anyway since they've put the National Flood Insurance Program on a high-risk watch list, essentially; and without any managerial changes we're entrusting that group that is on a watch with this great responsibility.

And I think this amendment really brings that real concern to mind, that those of us on this side of the aisle were not being given the opportunity to really debate this in totality.


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