Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, made the following statement from the House floor in support of the supplemental disaster relief funding bill.
As Prepared for Delivery
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of this critical disaster relief funding. In the wake of the destruction that this historic hurricane season has wrought on Texas, Florida, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Gulf Coast, I am very pleased that in addition to the emergency relief funds for wildfires and hurricane relief, the bill also includes liquidity and emergency nutritional assistance for Puerto Rico, where they are facing particularly difficult challenges in their recovery efforts.
This bill also provides for partial debt forgiveness of $16 billion for the National Flood Insurance Program. I am encouraged to see that both the Administration and Republican leadership are beginning to come to terms with what I have been saying for a long time – we need to forgive the debt of the NFIP, which FEMA has repeatedly stated it will never be able to repay. Following the losses that will be incurred as a result of the recent hurricanes, the NFIP needs debt forgiveness more than ever before. But let’s be clear: this partial debt forgiveness still leaves the NFIP with a crushing level of debt.
Although this is a step in the right direction, we should forgive all of the debt that the NFIP had accrued from catastrophic storms like Katrina and Sandy instead of burdening NFIP policyholders with hundreds of millions of dollars in interest payments every year.
Before this hurricane season, NFIP policyholders were already paying more in interest than the entire NFIP spends on salaries and expenses, or funding mitigation, or paying for flood maps. We need to stop this ridiculous cycle and forgive the entirety of the NFIP’s debt.