Waters Leads Fight to Defend the Flood Insurance Program, Policyholders
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, delivered three letters to House appropriators in support of her ongoing effort to fight for those who have fallen victim to natural flood disasters. The letters call for a rejection of any fees on the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) policyholders in order to pay for President Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall, the forgiveness of NFIP’s debt, and increased funding for our nation’s flood maps.
“It would be patently unfair and wholly inappropriate to increase flood insurance premiums for millions of households and businesses in order to pay for what amounts to a political stunt,” the Members wrote. “President Trump has repeatedly lied about the true cost of this border wall to U.S. taxpayers by continuously claiming that Mexico will pay for it.”
In a letter led by Ranking Member Waters and signed by 20 House Democrats, the Members urged appropriators to forgive the NFIP’s $24.6 billion debt.
“The NFIP’s current debt is the direct result of Congressional design and it is time that Congress takes responsibility for it,” the Members wrote.
The NFIP is designed to be self-sustaining, but it is not set up to fund large catastrophic events through policy premiums and fees alone. The program took on substantial debt following hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma in 2005 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012. The current debt represents funds that were expended to pay claims to homeowners who responsibly maintained flood insurance coverage when their homes were hit by these catastrophic storms.
“While the President’s budget request suggested that taxpayers should not pay for a benefit that only benefits NFIP policyholders, the benefits of The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) mapping efforts reach much farther than the NFIP,” the Members wrote. “In fact, taxpayers save over $2 for every $1 spent on flood mapping.”
NFIP’s stability and the affordability of flood insurance premiums have been a long standing concern for Ranking Member Waters. In 2014, she led bipartisan legislation to provide homeowners with flood insurance rate relief. The law struck an important balance between addressing affordability concerns, bringing accountability to FEMA, and protecting the financial stability of the NFIP. Ranking Member Waters is currently leading a bipartisan effort to reauthorize the NFIP ahead of its expiration in September of this year.