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Public Statements

Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BACHUS. Madam Speaker, first let me commend Chairman Mica on behalf of this Congress and the American people for the fine work that you and your committee have done on this bill. We'll build more roads with less money and cut through red tape and expedite projects.

I also want to associate myself with the words of Don Young, our former chairman, and of Mr. Miller from California. You cannot have--the leading country in the world cannot have a Third World infrastructure. And unless we find new funding sources, we will continue to fall behind, and we will continue to have those potholes and bottlenecks.

Now, I want to move to the National Flood Insurance program which is a part of this bill. It also is a win for the American people. This House over a year ago approved comprehensive flood insurance, risk based, that would reduce the cost and bring many benefits to the program. Last week, the Senate sent us a bill which is essentially the bill we sent them over a year ago. It's a bipartisan bill. It was a lot of hard work and input from Members. We passed it overwhelmingly in the Financial Services Committee and overwhelmingly on the floor of this House. I would like to commend Chairwoman Biggert for her fine work. Her name is on this bill, and there's a reason for that. She worked harder than anyone in this Congress to deliver a good bill. It's a 5-year bill, and it will begin to make up for the deficit of $17.5 billion that this program has as a result of those hurricanes back in 2005.

I would like to commend the Illinois delegation and the California delegation under Mr. Shimkus and Mr. Costa who, sadly, is retiring this year. This bill takes care to balance costs and communities that use their own funds. I urge Members to pass this bill. It's a good bill. It includes many good provisions, and I'm proud to say that the Financial Services Committee and its members have been a part of this effort.

As the legislation to reauthorize and reform the National Flood Insurance Program heads to the President's desk, I would like to acknowledge the time, effort, and wisdom that four members of the Financial Services Committee staff provided to create this positive outcome. These staff members were able to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate bills--working through a host of complex, highly technical issues--in less than one week. The efforts of Clinton Jones, Tallman Johnson, Ed Skala, and Nicole Austin helped all of us to achieve this very beneficial outcome for the American taxpayer, and I thank them for their service to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Madam Speaker, first I want to commend Transportation Committee Chairman Mica, Subcommittee Chairman Duncan, Ranking Member Rahall and others for their hard work on the needed transportation and infrastructure improvements in this bill.

I also want to take the time to comment on provisions in this bill regarding reauthorization and reform of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Today we're doing something we haven't done since 2004: provide a long-term reauthorization with meaningful reforms for the National Flood Insurance Program. Since September 2008, the NFIP has been extended 17 times and the program has lapsed four times during that same time period, creating needless uncertainty in the residential and commercial real estate sectors in communities across the country.

Over a year ago the Financial Services Committee and then the House, in a bipartisan display of cooperation, overwhelmingly passed a five-year flood insurance bill with comprehensive reforms and savings for the taxpayers. This week the Senate approved our legislation.

This bipartisan bill represents the hard work and input of many members, and I especially want to thank Housing Subcommittee Chairwoman Biggert for her leadership in getting us to this point.

This bill takes great care to balance the need to make the NFIP more actuarially sound with the need to recognize the hard work and difficult decisions many communities are making to build or rehabilitate their dams and levees. I particularly want to thank Mr. Shimkus for working with us to address those concerns in a responsible way.

Many of us have been calling for fundamental reforms of the NFIP for several years. The hurricanes of 2005 led to massive flooding and overwhelmed the program, which now carries a debt to the Treasury of $17.5 billion as a result.

The NFIP is facing serious financial challenges and cannot afford to continue on its current trajectory, which is why today's bill is vital. The reforms in this bill end the decades-old subsidies for about 355,000 policyholders and reduce the program's need to borrow additional funds from the Treasury, which will help reduce the program's shortfall and protect American taxpayers.

Congress has a responsibility to ensure that the taxpayers are not left holding the bag. This bill puts us on the path to reforming the program with risk-based premiums, and provisions to better protect both taxpayers and homeowners while encouraging greater private sector participation.

Since January of 2011, I have held as a goal of this Congress to achieve fundamental reform of the NFIP. The bill we have before us today accomplishes that in a fair and responsible manner. I urge all Members to support it.


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