Today, at a hearing to examine the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA)¸ Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, urged Committee Members to swiftly move towards long-term reauthorization, stressing the need for affordable insurance premiums and cancellation of the program’s $24.6 billion debt.
As Prepared for Delivery
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is critical. Our housing market has struggled in the past as Congress continued to extend the NFIP for months at a time. These short-term extensions sometimes led to lapses in the program’s authorization, which caused instability, wreaked havoc on our housing market, and placed communities at risk.
That’s why I worked with Ms. Biggert on what ultimately became the Biggert-Waters Act, to put forward a bipartisan, long-term reauthorization. We accomplished a lot of good things in the Biggert-Waters Act, but what I will never forget are the unintended consequences of the rate increases that caused great concern for homeowners, businesses, and renters across the country.
In response, I worked tirelessly with my colleagues across the aisle to enact much needed rate relief for thousands of homeowners and put FEMA back on the path to addressing affordability issues.
Let’s continue in that bipartisan spirit to ensure that the NFIP remains able to provide affordable flood insurance. The affordability challenges are great but the risks of failing to protect homes and businesses in the face of catastrophe are greater.
Congress must address the $24.6 billion debt the Program has accumulated responding to catastrophic storms like Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy. I will continue to call for the cancellation of this enormous burden that has already cost the NFIP nearly $4 billion in interest alone.
Mr. Chairman, as we move forward, we should remember that in the past five years Congress has made sweeping reforms to nearly every aspect of the flood insurance process. In our efforts to quickly move a reauthorization bill, let us not repeat the mistakes of the past, when we may have acted with good intentions, but due to unintended consequences ended up with bad outcomes for families and businesses.