Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Financial Services, participated in a 2018 Farm Bill Conference Committee meeting to discuss H.R. 2, the 2018 Farm Bill. During the discussion, Ranking Member Waters gave the following statement, urging her colleagues to protect Section 12609, which would extend the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) through January 31, 2019.
As Prepared for Delivery
I thank the Chair for the time, and I am honored to have been chosen as a member of the conference committee for H.R. 2, the 2018 Farm Bill.
Since the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) multi-year authorization expired on September 30, 2017, ideological differences have led Congress to pass seven short-term extensions and even allowed the program to briefly lapse twice during government shutdowns. More than five million families rely on the NFIP for affordable flood insurance coverage; communities rely on the NFIP for flood maps and mitigation assistance; and small businesses rely on the NFIP to pick up the pieces when the inevitable storm hits. Yet the long-term stability of this critical program continues to fall victim to partisan politics.
We are currently in peak hurricane season and while I am deeply disappointed that Congress continues to miss opportunities to stabilize flood insurance premiums, deal with the NFIP’s debt, and invest in up-to-date and accurate flood maps, I urge protection of Section 12609, which would extend the NFIP through January 2019. Given the critical importance of the NFIP to our housing market, we must take this small step to at least provide some level of certainty to businesses and families.
While I was chosen for this conference committee because of the inclusion of flood insurance in the Senate bill, there are a number of provisions of the House bill that I find deeply problematic.
I am especially concerned about the drastic cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, is our nation’s preeminent anti-hunger program, and the House version cuts this critical program by more than $23 billion. This bill literally takes food from the tables of millions of low-income families who are struggling to make ends meet.
The House bill also cuts almost $800 million from sustainable farming practices by eliminating the Conservation Stewardship Program and includes several anti-environmental riders, which weaken environmental protections, including pesticide regulations, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.
Finally, I appreciate the fact that the Senate bill includes Section 12301, which provides robust funding for assistance to minority, veteran, and beginning farmers. This program will help to educate the next generation of farmers and ensure that farming is not limited to the wealthy and well-connected.