Mr. FRANKS of Arizona. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous materials on H.R. 3541, as amended, currently under consideration.
Mrs. BIGGERT. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the Senate amendment to H.R. 5740, the National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act. As my colleagues know, the NFIP is set to expire on May 31. This program provides vital flood insurance coverage to homeowners in flood-prone communities.
Just 2 weeks ago, we passed a 30-day extension, H.R. 5740, to spare property owners and the housing market from another lapse in the NFIP. That bill was approved by this Chamber on May 17 by a vote of 402 18.
The Senate has since amended our legislation, extending the authorization for an additional 30 days, for a total of 60 days, or until July 31. The Senate amendment also eliminates subsidized rates for second and vacation homes. According to an unofficial Congressional Budget Office staff estimate, this provision will generate approximately $2 billion to $2.5 billion over 10 years.
Although not identical, the Senate's reform provision mirrors section 5 of H.R. 1309, the 5-year flood reform bill that we in the House passed with overwhelming bipartisan support last July. And if any technical changes are needed, they can be addressed in any long-term reform measure that we consider in the coming weeks.
On that note, I am pleased to report that, as part of reaching an agreement on this extension, Senate leaders have offered their public and private assurances that they will vote this June on the long-term flood insurance reform. This agreement is a major breakthrough for those of us who have been [Page: H3251]
pushing for the Senate passage of the long-term bill since the House completed its work nearly 11 months ago. The Senate Banking Committee has already approved
a bipartisan NFIP proposal, and I remain confident that the House and Senate can reconcile any differences that remain between our respective visions for reform.
Mr. Speaker, the NFIP is over $17 billion in debt to taxpayers, and since 2008 Congress has enacted 16 stopgap measures to keep the program running. Today's bill can and should be the last short-term extension, because this program is too important to let lapse and too in debt to continue without reform. Today's bill not only prevents a lapse, it brings us closer to a responsible long-term solution. And the sooner we accomplish this goal, the sooner taxpayers can stop bearing the full expense
and risk of an outdated flood program.
With that, I would urge my colleagues to support the Senate amendment to H.R. 5740, and I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. DAVID SCOTT of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, again, it is certainly a pleasure always to work with the gentlewoman from Illinois on this issue.
We brought this issue up awhile back, and we were very successful in getting a 5-year extension, the way this should be dealt with. The Senate, unfortunately, chose not to immediately pursue that, so we came back 2 weeks ago and asked for a 30-day extension, to our good graces and the good grace of the Senate. They doubled that and came back with a 60-day extension, but yet we still need the 5-year extension, so we hope that this is a sign of us moving in the right direction. We are very pleased
that the Senate is moving with the House in the right direction on this very important plan, and this is an important plan.
We are now just 2 days from the start of the hurricane season and, as a matter of fact, as I was here before 2 weeks ago, I said we needed to make sure we prepared for the storm before the hurricane is raging and that we were just a couple of weeks away from the start of the hurricane season. But we had an early arrival. We had Beryl come in. So you see how pressing and how urgent this is.
This piece of legislation is perhaps the most important piece of legislation that we can pass right now of major benefit for the American people. They will be able to go to sleep tonight to know that at least for the next 2 months this National Flood Insurance Program will be in place. And this will be a great sigh of relief, but that still leaves the heavy lifting to do. We have got the 5-year program and we have got to do that.
I do want to say thank you and my hat is off to Senator Reid and Senator Coburn, who came to an agreement. I think it's a good agreement. It's an agreement that we certainly accept here, too. And what we understand happened in the Senate was that the Senate amendment, which was offered in the Senate Banking Committee by Senator Tim Johnson, was to make sure that those homes that are second homes or vacation homes would not receive subsidized rates, and we think that's
fair. That's a part of what's in our 5-year plan as well, so that is very much appreciated there.
As we look forward now, all we have to do now is pass this out now and move forward in good faith with the Senate to let's move with dispatch and get the 5-year plan. Now, the reason we need the 5-year plan is because of the continuity, of the dependability, so that people will know well in advance exactly that we have this program in place.
If I may, and with just my short time here, in case some of the people do not know why this 5-year plan is so important, I do want to state exactly what it does.
First of all, it does, in fact, extend the flood insurance program for 5 years.
It will also delay, for 5 years, the mandatory purchase requirement resulting from new flood maps.
The bill certainly requires annual notification to homeowners who are living in flood zones about the risks to their community. As I noted last week, a couple of weeks ago, many people move into areas, and they don't even know that they are in a flood zone, so it's very important that we will notify people. Our bill, this 5-year program, lets people know every single year because you have people moving in, you have people moving out. Every year there will be a notification as to whether or not
they are in a flood zone.
The other important part about this is we have noticed, particularly in my own home State of Georgia where we had such a devastating flood in the year 2009, it was the worst flood we had there since we started taking records of that. As I mentioned, we lost lives. Seven individuals lost their lives in one county in my district. The application of flood maps all across this country, in every corner of this country, our flood maps are outdated.
Well, this bill will make sure that they are dated--so that many of our constituency who are at the risk of flood damage are at that risk without any knowledge--by making the flood maps current, by making sure that information is imparted to individuals who move in and out of communities every year that they are in a flood zone.
Most importantly, most importantly in these tough economic times, under our 5-year plan, individuals will be able to purchase their flood insurance in installments instead of one lump sum. This has caused many people not to be able to be have the flood insurance, because prior to this bill, this 5-year plan, as of right now, to get flood insurance, you have to do it as a lump sum. That's why this 5-year plan is important, and it's important for the Senate to move so that we can get this done
But this is good news for the American people. We do have 2 months, as the hurricane season starts, and I think we have a good agreement here and good energy to move forward, the House and the Senate together, and put the 5-year plan in place.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. STIVERS. Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the gentlelady from Illinois for yielding me time. I'd like to thank her as chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Insurance and Housing for the Financial Services Committee for her incredible bipartisan effort that she led on this bill, along with Members of the other side, including the gentlelady from California and the gentleman from Georgia. It's been a true bipartisan effort. Obviously, that's reflected in the 402 18 vote coming out of this
Chamber in May.
I'm happy that the Senate has finally reached an agreement to move forward with the multiyear extension of the National Flood Insurance Program because if we don't have a multiyear extension, what could happen is it could really cause problems in our housing market. I think the gentleman from Georgia has really talked about the importance of continuity and why that's really important for people that live in a flood plain to be able to know they can sell their house and also know that somebody
can buy a home that happens to be in a flood plain.
I think it is important that we have accurate flood maps. This bill will ensure that we have much more accurate flood maps that have three dimensions on them, and that will result in better knowledge of where the flood plains are and where the risk is.
This bill will help stop the taxpayer-funded bailouts. As you know, the National Flood Insurance Program owes $17 billion to the taxpayers. We've got to make sure that it is sustainable into the future.
I think some of the Senate changes are good. The amendment by Senator Coburn that makes sure that we don't subsidize second and third homes that happen to be vacation homes makes a lot of sense. It steps up the premiums 25 percent a year for multiple years until they become actuarially sound. We need to ultimately move the whole program to an actuarially sound basis. That's why I'm concerned about some of the other provisions in the amended Senate language that removed the GAO study
regarding privatization and allowing a chance to look at the flood insurance program's ability to pay claims over the long term. [Page: H3252]
I think it is important that we know the viability of the flood insurance program. But overall, I think having Senate amendments and a Senate agreement is a major step forward. I'm excited about continuing to work together to move this program forward and reauthorize it, hopefully, for a 5-year term. But this step to agree to Senate amendments to extend the time for a total of 60 days to get us past July so that hopefully the Senate will have time in June to bring this up, I think allows us the
time we need to make that happen.
I do think if anybody in this body cares about our housing market or cares about stopping taxpayer-funded bailouts or wants to make sure that we have accurate flood maps, they should vote to agree to these amendments, and I hope all my colleagues will do so.
Mr. DAVID SCOTT of Georgia. Again, let me thank the gentlelady from Illinois (Mrs. Biggert) for her outstanding leadership on this. It's been a joy to work with her. The American people are certainly appreciative of her efforts in leading this fight. I also want to thank Ms. Maxine Waters, who is our subcommittee ranking member; and I also want to extend congratulations to Senator Harry Reid and Senator Tom Coburn.
I also want to just say a word for the bipartisan relationships that have developed on this bill. This is how we move bills forward. This is how we've got to move the country forward, and this is what the American people are looking to us to do. This is not a Democratic or a Republican Congress. It is a Congress of the American people. And the progress of this flood insurance bill is indicative of that fact.
With that, I yield back the balance of my time.
Mrs. BIGGERT. I yield myself the balance of my time.
Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned earlier, this bill is the 17th short-term extension of the National Flood Insurance Program. Our colleagues in the Senate have assured us that in June they will take up the version of a long-term NFIP reauthorization and reform bill, so I am confident that this will be our last short-term extension.
H.R. 5740, with the Senate amendment, extends the program for an additional 2 months in order to protect homeowners, communities in flood-prone areas, and the housing market. Including at least one reform provision in H.R. 5740--to eliminate subsidized rates for second and vacation homes--reduces some of the NFIP's risk to taxpayers.
H.R. 5740 also buys the House and Senate 2 more months to finalize a larger bill to reauthorize the 5 years and reform the National Flood Insurance Program.
Eleven months ago, over 400 Members of the House from both sides of the aisle voted for H.R. 1309 to reform this program. Actually, the reform bill passed out of the Financial Services Committee 54 0. So this is a real bipartisan effort. The House also has approved the same 5-year NFIP reauthorization and reform bill as part of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 in December, and as part of the Reconciliation Act that was passed a couple of weeks ago.
Again, earlier this month over 400 Members of the House voted for the first version of H.R. 5740 to ensure that NFIP doesn't lapse. NFIP is over $17 billion in debt to taxpayers and it cannot continue without reforms, but shouldn't lapse, particularly at the start of the hurricane season, which begins this week on June 1.
With that, I urge my colleagues to again support H.R. 5740.
Finally, I would really like to thank Ms. Waters for cosponsoring this bill as the lead cosponsor and Mr. Scott from Georgia for managing time for the other side and all other Members on both sides of the aisle. We've had a really great turnout for the NFIP reform effort.