Issue: H.R. 7187, National Flood Insurance Program Further Extension Act. Question: On Motion to Suspend the Rules and Pass (2/3 vote required).
Result: Agreed to in House, 350 to 46, 36 not voting. Passed same day in Senate by voice vote. Became Public Law 115-281 (signed by the President, 12-1-18). GOP and Democrats scored.
Freedom First Society: H.R. 7187 is the eighth short-term extension (only 1 week) of the troubled 1968 National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) since its multi-year authorization expired last September. 46 Republicans but no Democrats objected to the House and Senate’s refusal to insist on any reforms to this 1968 program, and so they refused to accept even this one week extension. Since some committee leaders were insisting on “reform,” some of those objecting to the clean extension were given floor time (see below).
Of course, we object that the NFIP was an unconstitutional federal program from its beginning and should be phased out, not reformed. But some of the proposed reforms, such as breaking the subsidized federal monopoly on flood insurance, support responsible stewardship in the meantime.
We have assigned (good vote) to the Nays and (bad vote) to the Yeas. (P = voted present; ? = not voting; blank = not listed on roll call.)
Bill Summary: H.R. 7187 amends the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program through December 7, 2018, extending its expiration from November 30, 2018.
Freedom First Society Analysis: For an explanation of the origins of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), please see our analysis of the vote on the seventh short-term extension in July (House Roll Call 373, 7-25-18).
With H.R. 7187, House Republican leaders sought consensus with the Democrats rather than responding to fiscal objections within their own party. Such actions demonstrate that the GOP leadership is also beholden to the Establishment’s big government agenda.
Congressional Record (11-29-18):
[Freedom First Society: Below are comments from some committee leaders and representatives who voted Nay]
Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wisconsin) (author of the 21st Century Flood Reform Act, which the House passed over a year ago without action from the Senate]: “There are a lot of things we could talk about today in regard to flood insurance: We could talk about the fact that repetitive loss properties make up 2 percent of all the policies but account for 25 percent of all of the claims. We could talk about the fact that the NFIP is $30 billion in debt, and that is after last year when we forgave $16 billion in debt. Again, we forgave $16 billion. We are still $25 billion in debt and actually racked up $10 billion of new debt in this program over the last year. I have got to tell you I am frustrated. We passed a bipartisan bill in this Chamber. We actively and aggressively negotiated it. This is a big issue for families back home, for constituents of our Members. We have listened to them. We heard them. We modified, we tweaked a bill, and we passed it — and the Senate won’t take it up….
“I have come to the opinion that there are very powerful players in this Chamber and in the Chamber next door that don’t want anything done with flood insurance. It is a sick and broken program that goes deeper and deeper in debt, that incentivizes people to build in dangerous places. And they say: No, no, no. We don’t want any reform. Let’s march on with a program that doesn’t work.”
Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Florida): “Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman and the subcommittee chairman, Mr. Duffy, for his efforts, too, in trying to provide significant reforms. I support their efforts in opposing this additional reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program. We have done this eight times in just over the year, and what have we gotten in return? Some would say nothing. I would say, no, it has been worse than nothing. You see, we forgave $16 billion in debt and got no reforms in response to that. Now the NFIP is $20 billion in debt again, yet we look at: Oh, but it is just $20 billion. In over 13 years, the interest on that is $5 billion. When are we going to stop this insanity? “More disturbing, however, Mr. Speaker, is this House’s failure to stand up to even the most modest technical reforms that would benefit the program. During my time in this body, I have been proud to champion one such bill, the Private Flood Insurance Market Development Act. To me, it defies logic that this coequal Chamber would pass a bill unanimously through the authorizing committee of this Congress and then unanimously through the whole House in the last Congress and, yet, abandon its opportunities every time thereafter. My legislation is simple. It is a technical correction that will facilitate the growth of a private market alternative to the drowning national program that we have today. It is bipartisan. It is desperately needed. “Yet, here we are again with a clean reauthorization that makes no progress and no promises that tomorrow will be any different. That, Mr. Speaker, is a shame. It is a shame that we have once again folded in the face of unjustified inaction. When does it end? When do we say enough is enough?
“Mr. Speaker, I do not want to shut down the NFIP. We don’t need to. All we need to do is for the Senate to accept just one of the many eminently reasonable pieces of legislation that the House has passed, to be included alongside the short-term extension. Even the simplest reform would indicate that the Senate is serious about coming to the table to negotiate a long-term reauthorization. Anything would be better than the hollow promises this clean extension puts before us today. Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to vote ‘no’ on this legislation.” [Emphasis added.]
Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas) (vice chairman on the Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee of the Financial Services Committee): “Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong opposition to the reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program. Mr. Speaker, for 20 years, Congress has been putting off making meaningful reforms to this problematic program. Taxpayers continue to pay the price for our failure to act. With every year that passes, the NFIP goes further and further into debt. The unsustainability of this program has even caused Congress to cancel $16 billion in NFIP debt last year. “Without meaningful reform like what this body approved when we passed the 21st Century Flood Reform Act, what protections do taxpayers have? Mr. Speaker, the reauthorization before us today is not reform. By simply changing the date of the NFIP expiration, this body is tacitly stating that reform can’t be done. Enough is enough. We can’t continue to pass our problems along to those in the future. The time to fix this problem is now. I will oppose extensions of the NFIP as long as this body continues to ignore meaningful reforms. Mr. Speaker, I invite all my colleagues to join me in voting ‘no’ on this legislation.”
Rep. J. Hill (R-Arkansas) (the Financial Services Committee majority whip): “What we are here for today is because the Senate has not taken one step to constructive reform of the National Flood Insurance Program. That is why we are here…. “So it is very hard for me, Mr. Speaker, to support a 7-day reauthorization status quo for the eighth time. It is just very hard to do that because it is not right…. “So, it is with a lot of regret, Mr. Speaker, I cannot support the reauthorization of this program for 7 days. We need the Senate to wake up and take action.
Rep. Ted Budd (R-North Carolina): “Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to yet another short-term extension of the National Flood Insurance Program, or the NFIP. This is our eighth one — our eighth one since fiscal year 2017 began. I think we owe it to the taxpayers and I owe it to the residents of North Carolina’s 13th District to fight for reform. We cannot support another short-term renewal, especially considering the program is $20 billion — and I have even heard that it is even upwards of that — $20 billion in the hole. It is hemorrhaging money, Mr. Speaker. And it is concerning that folks cannot even agree to or even support modest reforms to one of the most flawed government programswe have ever seen.
“Mr. Speaker, I urge opposition of this extension and believe this continuous kicking of the can down the road cannot go on forever. There is still time to adopt even modest reforms, and I sure hope that we do so. I think Senator Mike Lee of Utah said it best when he gave his description of a ‘yes’ vote to extend the NFIP yet again with no reforms back in the summer. He said:
‘This is terribly discouraging. It’s not just this program; it’s all that it represents. If we aren’t willing to adopt even modest reforms to a minor program like NFIP, how will we ever address any of the far more vexing problems facing our government?’
“This Senator from Utah gets it, and, Mr. Speaker, I wish others would as well.” [Emphasis added.]
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) (Chairman Financial Services Committee): “And, today, November 29, 2018, is a sad and embarrassing day for the United States House of Representatives. And I must say, as a Republican, it is a sad and embarrassing day for something we call regular order, something that my party ran on.
“And now we have a bill coming to the floor, within the jurisdiction of the House Financial Services Committee; regular order says the committee of jurisdiction first works their will before the House works their will. The committee didn’t work its will on this bill. And, in fact, I have yet to find anybody in the Republican leadership who will own up to how this came to the floor in the first place. So, unfortunately, because my party lost at the ballot box, we are going to soon be out of the regular order business and apparently we have forgotten how to do it. So it is a sad day in that regard.
“It is also a sad day because what we see here with this bill is a perpetuation of the status quo. Now, let me tell you what the status quo is, Mr. Speaker. The status quo is 100 different people are dying in America every year from floods. At least a part of that tragedy — a part of that tragedy is a failure to reform the National Flood Insurance Program. Status quo is that we continue to pay people to build the same homes in the same fashion in the same places that flood over and over and over and somehow expect a different result. We are not helping them. We are not helping them at all. We are helping put them in harm’s way. That is what the status quo is, and if you vote for this extension, you are voting for the status quo.
“Status quo is a governmentmonopoly — a government monopoly with no competition, no innovation, and, by the way, it is subsidized, and it is still not affordable. We are seeing average premium increases of 7 percent a year. You know, on the Republican side of the aisle, why don’t we give free enterprise a chance? Why don’t we allow competition to bring in innovation, to bring down rates as opposed to, again, making taxpayers subsidize it and still have unaffordability? Only government can bring about that insane result. What else is the status quo? The status quo is $35 billion of debt — $35 billion of debt with $1\1/2\ billion actual actuarial annual deficit a year. Totally unsustainable. Totally unsustainable The status quo is that taxpayers, hardworking factory workers in Mesquite, Texas, are having to subsidize millionaires’ beach condos. That is the status quo. That is the bill that is on the floor right now.
“The last several tragic hurricanes we have seen, 80 to 90 percent of the affected flooded homes didn’t even have flood insurance. Why? Because it is not part of the homeowner’s insurance policy due to the government monopoly. That is the status quo. And we are paying on the back end because we are not allowing market competition on the front end. That is the status quo….
“We know what the classic definition of insanity is: doing the same thing over and over and over and expecting a different result. Eight times — this will be the eighth time since the House passed the 21st Century Flood Reform Act on a bipartisan basis that there will be yet another vote for status quo. Here is a radical idea. Why don’t we do something different? Why don’t we tell the Senate it is time, after a year, that they do their business? I have got to tell you, once again, Mr. Speaker, I have learned a number of things in my 16 years of service in this body. One is never underestimate the Senate’s capacity to do nothing. Why do we allow them to do nothing? Let them bring a bill….
“I imagine a day when we have a flood insurance program with affordable premiums that is brought about by competition, that is brought about by innovation.” [Emphasis added.]
[Freedom First Society: Radical Leftist Democrats seem to use every opportunity to reinforce the illusion that their “man-made” climate change vehicle for revolutionary change is established fact. One such comment follows.]
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) (Ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee): “Mr. Speaker, Americans across the country are experiencing natural disasters of an absolutely catastrophic magnitude. Just this month, the Camp fire devastated California, amounting to the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history. Current estimates are that 88 individuals have lost their lives and tens of thousands of structures, including over 13,000 single-family homes, have been destroyed. 2017 was an absolutely catastrophic year in terms of hurricanes. In 2017, for the first time on record, three Category 4 hurricanes made landfall in the United States. Hurricane Maria decimated Puerto Rico.
“Meanwhile, the administration’s National Climate Assessment, which is a report prepared by 13 Federal agencies and more than 3,000 scientists, recently documented the numerous impacts of our warming climate. According to the report, climate change is costing billions of dollars in property damage from sea level rise. High tide flooding has increased by factors as high as 10 in some communities, and fire season is now over 80 days longer than a couple of decades ago. Faced with these realities, we stand here today still lacking a credible plan to end the partisan problems that we have that has brought the NFIP to the brink of a lapse several times already in this Congress….
“Given the critical importance of the NFIP to our housing market, I am pleased that we are taking this small step today of reauthorizing the program through December 7 to at least avoid its doors from shuttering.”