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Reps. Pascrell & Pallone Offer Amendments to Flood Program Bill

Partisan GOP bill will make flood insurance more expensive, unfair, and less accessible

Yesterday Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-09) and Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) opposed H.R. 2874, the so-called 21st Century Flood Reform Act after offering amendments to the bill, which were denied a vote by Republican Leadership. The partisan bill would make flood insurance more expensive, less available, and less fair for millions of Americans.

"In the five years since Superstorm Sandy devastated the Northeast, we in New Jersey have learned first-hand of many problems with the National Flood Insurance Program – and this bill fails to learn from these lessons. This legislation will not prevent victims of future storms from facing the same troubles as those in New Jersey," Rep. Pascrell said. "The bill allows companies who profited off Superstorm Sandy victims while committing widespread fraud to expand their presence in the flood insurance market. This bill does not address problems in the claims process that caused unnecessary delays for victims in receiving their fair share. Nor does this bill ensure victims have the time they need to file an appeal and require FEMA to respond so victims are able to move the claims process forward. In my opposition to this reauthorization bill, I was proud to stand with the victims of Superstorm Sandy who are still waiting for relief and struggling to rebuild their homes and businesses."

"Just a few weeks ago, we observed the 5th anniversary of Superstorm Sandy," said Rep. Pallone. "New Jersey’s recovery from that traumatic event has been prolonged, in part, by issues facing the National Flood Insurance Program. Too many of my constituents are still dealing with high premiums, inaccurate flood maps, or are still waiting for their Sandy claims appeals to be decided. We need a long-term NFIP reauthorization that focuses on increasing affordability, investing in mitigation, capping the profits of the flood insurance companies, and comprehensively restructuring the claims process. This bill fails that test."

H.R. 2874 would make flood insurance less affordable by forcing homeowners to pay higher insurance premiums based on flood maps that didn’t exist when their properties were purchased, and allowing their rates to be increased at a faster rate. The legislation raises the minimum annual increase on properties built before the first flood insurance rate map from 5 percent to 6.5 percent over three years and increases annual surcharges required by the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (HFIAA) from $25 to $40 surcharge on primary residences. The bill also fails to address key issues facing the National Flood Insurance Program, including the more than $20 billion in debt weighing down the program and provides no funding for new flood maps or for improved flood zone mapping technology. 

This week, Pallone and Pascrell offered amendments that would have improved the bill. They included a 10 percent cap on premium increases, increasing the Increased Cost of Compliance from $30,000 to $100,000, capping the profits of flood insurance companies, and other pro-policyholder provisions. The Republican majority refused to bring the amendments to the House floor for a vote.

Rep. Pascrell also offered an amendment under a Motion to Recommit that would delay the implementation of H.R. 2874 until the FEMA Administrator and the DHS Inspector General can certify that all outstanding claims from Superstorm Sandy have been finalized.  After five years, these American homeowners and business owners cannot wait any longer to rebuild their lives and their livelihoods.

The Congressmen have been leaders in demanding transparency and swift action on behalf of those who have suffered from inefficiencies and widespread fraud in the National Flood Insurance Program, and have championed reform efforts. Earlier this year Pallone and Pascrell announced for the introduction of the Sustainable, Affordable, Fair and Efficient National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (SAFE NFIP) of 2017, which would reauthorize the program, cap premium rate increases, authorize funding for more accurate flood mapping, reform the appeals process, and cap the compensation of flood insurance companies.   

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