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Chairman Hensarling Speaks on House Floor on Need to End Taxpayer Bailouts of Flood Insurance Program


Washington, Jan 4 -

Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling today spoke on the need to end taxpayer bailouts of the National Flood Insurance Program as the House debated Hurricane Sandy legislation that temporarily increases the program’s authority to borrow $9.7 billion.  The flood insurance program is already in debt by more than $20 billion.

“As Chairman of the Financial Services Committee, I wish to inform all members in this Congress, our committee will take up legislation to transition to a private, innovative, competitive, sustainable flood insurance market.  One that serves the needs of all of our countrymen, but ends the unsustainable taxpayer bailouts once and for all.  A great physical tragedy of today should never become an even greater fiscal tragedy for our children tomorrow,” said Chairman Hensarling.

The Chairman’s full remarks from today’s debate follow:

“There is no doubt that Hurricane Sandy rendered unspeakable damage to both lives and property on our East Coast.  It represents truly one of the great natural disasters of recent history.  For millions of our fellow citizens, the devastation has been unspeakable and unfathomable.  It is time, obviously, to rebuild homes, buildings and lives.  For the victims who paid for flood insurance policies with the National Flood Insurance Program, their claims need to be paid and paid now.

“But Madam Speaker, here’s the tragic reality:  the National Flood Insurance Program is broke.  It is beyond broke -- it is now taxpayer bailout broke.  Regrettably, not unlike our nation – broke, trillions in debt.  Debt to the Chinese, the shameful bill sent to our children and grandchildren.  So right here, right now, Madam Speaker, members are faced with a tragic choice of not paying contractual claims to victims who pay premiums or adding $9.7 billion to an insane national debt that threatens our national security, our economic well-being, and our children's future.  Emergency bills like this should not come to the floor without offsets to pay for it or structural reforms to ensure that taxpayer bailouts are never needed again.  Regrettably, less than 24 hours into a new Congress, there is simply not time for this.

“As many in this body know, I have long been critical of the National Flood Insurance Program.  For more than four decades this experiment in government-provided flood insurance has proven to be ineffective, inefficient and indisputably costly to hardworking American taxpayers.  Last Congress we passed a re-authorization bill with modest reforms to begin eliminating outdated subsidies and get the program on a path towards actuarial soundness, but Sandy has hit before many of these provisions could take effect.  As Chairman of the Financial Services Committee, I wish to inform all members in this Congress, our committee will take up legislation to transition to a private, innovative, competitive, sustainable flood insurance market.  One that serves the needs of all of our countrymen, but ends the unsustainable taxpayer bailouts once and for all.  A great physical tragedy of today should never become an even greater fiscal tragedy for our children tomorrow.”