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Waters: Cassidy Flood Insurance Bill Provides No Assistance to Those Already Hurting

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Washington, DC, December 12, 2013 | comments
In reaction to legislation introduced by Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) the top Democrat on the Financial Services Committee and co-author of the Biggert-Waters flood insurance bill, today expressed her strong opposition to the measure.

“Time and again, I have made clear that I am committed to resolving the problems that have resulted from the implementation of the Biggert-Waters Act, and we have brought together a board, bipartisan coalition of the House and Senate to do so. If the Cassidy legislation made real progress toward that goal, I would be the first to sign my name in support,” said Waters.

“The fact is that the Cassidy bill does nothing to help those already suffering from skyrocketing flood insurance premiums. Worse, it undermines the bipartisan progress we have already made in Congress. Under the Cassidy bill, those who have received notices of rate increases – and those looking to buy or sell a home – will receive no relief whatsoever. It merely delays other rate changes that FEMA has stated will not take effect until late 2014 — amounting to a delay of only a few months. We need comprehensive reform that helps those who are hurting. Now is not the time to be playing politics while millions of homeowners continue to suffer.”

On multiple occasions, Waters has pledged to fix the problems with the implementation of changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). She has spearheaded bipartisan, bicameral legislation to address the problem, through a significant delay and a comprehensive set of measures to ensure implementation is conducted in a manner that is responsible and affordable. In both chambers the bill enjoys strong, bipartisan support, with 156 cosponsors in the House (H.R.3370) and 23 in the Senate (S.1610).

Yesterday, progress was significantly jeopardized with the introduction of Rep. Cassidy’s bill. His legislation will only delay changes to so-called “grandfathered” rates until March 1, 2015. FEMA has publicly said the earliest they will address grandfathered rates is late 2014. Therefore, this only results in, at most, a delay of only a few months (October 2014-March 2015) – through the 2014 election.

In sharp contrast, Congresswoman Waters’ comprehensive legislation delays rate increases for all primary homeowners and homebuyers over a total of four years – even those already in effect. It also mandates FEMA complete a mandated affordability study and come up with a plan on how to implement the program in a manner that keeps flood insurance affordable. It will also establish a Flood Insurance Advocate within FEMA to answer policyholder questions about the flood mapping process and flood insurance rates.

The delay in the Cassidy legislation does not even give FEMA enough time to complete the affordability study, which FEMA has estimated will take two years to complete.

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