Filed Under:  OpEd, Opinion

Congress must vote to delay Biggert-Waters

17th February 2014   ·   0 Comments

Last Wednesday night, Metairie GOP Congressman Steve Scalise helped broker an agreement amongst key GOP lawmakers in the House, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, to protect Louisiana homeowners from unaffordable Biggert-Waters flood insurance rate hikes.

Our editorial board commends Scalise for it, yet some congressman, mostly his fellow Republicans, continue to ignore the reality of Bigger-Waters’ fundamental flaws as a bill.

Not just the Pelican State, but homeowners nationwide living near water, nearly 80 percent of America, are threatened with flood insurance hikes amounting to thousands of dollars per year. It does not matter if their homes have never flooded. The FEMA maps give little credence to reality in the maps mandated under Biggert-Waters.

The rate increases are high enough to essentially force people from their homes, and make re-sale of their properties essentially impossible.

That needs to change, and the House must take up Scalise’s version of Mary Landrieu’s Senate bill, which passed the Upper Chamber last month. The problem is however, Speaker John Boehner has said he will not bring the bill to a vote in spite of the fact that there are currently enough votes to pass the legislation through the House.

Why, because he fears breaking the Hastert rule requiring majority support among his own party to bring a measure to the floor. Many Republicans hail from regions that have few, if any, problems with flooding, and have little interest in amending Biggert-Waters. They see the bill as returning the Federal Flood Insurance Program to fiscal balance. Forget that many of these same legislators just voted for a farm bill that loots the federal treasury. Breaking ideological purity to help their constituents is different. So what if some poor Pelican State “denizens” lose their homes.

Early last week, the Speaker suspended the Hastert rule to pass a “clean” debt ceiling increase, with mostly Democratic votes. We urge him to do the same now. Don’t wait until next year’s unpayable flood insurance premiums spark a wave of foreclosures, chasing people from the only homes many have ever known.

This article originally published in the February 17, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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