Bill would reform National Flood Insurance Program, aims to protect homeowners from steep insurance hikes
Congressman Chris Smith and Monmouth County Shaun Golden prepare to survey Hurricane Sandy damage
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House of Representatives voted last night to provide relief to hundreds of thousands of homeowners facing huge flood insurance premium rate increases, including many still recovering from the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy. Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), who represents severely damaged areas in southern Monmouth and northern Ocean Counties, praised the vote.
“The bill makes targeted and necessary reforms and will prevent massive premium increases from hitting homeowners who simply cannot afford them—and cannot find a buyer to take them on, leaving them stranded and without a solution,” Smith said. “Many cannot afford the recommended mitigation measures that may or may not reduce their premiums, creating a further environment of uncertainty. Accordingly, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act slows the rate of increase that was included in the 2012 Biggert-Waters reform bill, allowing homeowners to remain in their homes and plan accordingly to continue flood insurance policies.”
The bill passed in a 309-91 vote. If enacted the bill will provide relief and stability to these homeowners and their communities while bringing reform to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). It also provides a mechanism for enhanced community participation in the flood mapping process and increases transparency by making information publicly available to impacted parties.
The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (HR 3370), co-sponsored by Smith, remedies many of the unintended consequences of the so-called Biggert-Waters Act of 2012. It repeals certain rate increases on Pre-Flood Insurance Rate Map (Pre-FIRM) properties and restores Grandfathered Rates for Post-FIRM properties that were built to code at the time of construction. It prevents a property sale from triggering rate increases and refunds those who have already faced one.
The US House Republican leader told his caucus Friday to expect a vote on authorization of the use of force in Syria within the next two weeks. In an internal memo to fellow Republican members, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor laid out a busy schedule…
Aid Passes 241-180 Assists New Jersey residents from worst natural disaster in their history
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House of Representatives tonight approved the full disaster recovery funding that will help the victims of Superstorm Sandy rebuild their communities.
“Sandy was the most destructive storm ever in our region and arguably the second or third most costly in America’s history,” said Congressman Chris Smith, R- Robbinsville, N.J., who represents the Fourth Congressional District—the hard-hit area of northern Ocean County & southern Monmouth County where Sandy made landfill. “We are not crying wolf here, I say to my colleagues. There are huge gaps—people who have filed for insurance claims—and find insurance covered only this much. How do they ever recover?” Smith, who took the House floor no less than three times today to speak in favor of passage, pointed out that the Governor’s office estimated the damage in New Jersey alone to be $36.9 billion. Click here to watch Cong. Smith’s appeal to his House colleagues to pass the Sandy aid.
Two votes today providing $17 billion and $34 billion would supplement $9.7 billion already provided by both Houses of Congress Jan. 4, for a total of $60 billion emergency spending aid package.
“There is an immediate need to rebuild and restore. In particular, our residents and neighbors need assistance with temporary housing and permanent home restoration,” said Smith. “The Jersey Shore needs to be open for business by or near Memorial Day, or else many will suffer economic hardships, including losing jobs or businesses.”
Trenton, NJ – New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy released the following statement regarding passage today of the disaster relief package by the House of Representatives:
“We are grateful to those members of Congress who today pulled together in a unified, bipartisan coalition to assist millions of their fellow Americans in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut at their greatest time of need. The tradition of Congress being there and providing support for Americans during times of crisis, no matter where they live across this great country, lives on in today’s vote in the House of Representatives. We anticipate smooth passage when this package moves back to the Senate for final approval and for this long-awaited relief to finally make its way to our residents.”
Trenton, NJ – With all that New York and New Jersey and our millions of residents and small businesses have suffered and endured, this continued inaction and indifference by the House of Representatives is inexcusable. It has now been 66 days since Hurricane Sandy hit and 27 days since President Obama put forth a responsible aid proposal that passed with a bipartisan vote in the Senate while the House has failed to even bring it to the floor. This failure to come to the aid of Americans following a severe and devastating natural disaster is unprecedented. The fact that days continue to go by while people suffer, families are out of their homes, and men and women remain jobless and struggling during these harsh winter months is a dereliction of duty. When American citizens are in need we come to their aid. That tradition was abandoned in the House last night.
The people of our states can no long afford to wait while politicians in Washington play games.
The bill that passed the U.S. Senate on Friday that would provide $60 billion to rebuild New Jersey, New York and Connecticut from the effects of Superstorm Sandy and $400 million in projects unrelated to Sandy has stalled in the House of Representatives, according to reports on Politico and NorthJersey.com.
The House has split the relief measure into two parts; a $27 billion first installment to fund immediate recovery needs over the next three months and a $33 billion amendment to that installment bill. The amendment would fund strip away the $400 million in non-Sandy pork.
House Speaker John Boehner pulled the measures from the voting schedule prior to the “fiscal cliff” vote last night. If the House does not act before noon on Thursday any federal help for Sandy recovery will have to be taken up by the new Congress.
President Barack Obama has long tried to distance himself from the “Fast and Furious” scandal at the Justice Department, which stems from a program under which Mexican drug cartels were allowed to acquire U.S. firearms that were later used against U.S. law-enforcement personnel. By invoking executive privilege to stymie congressional investigation of the case, the president has placed himself squarely in the center of it.
President Obama, who had been a bitter critic of the Bush administration’s use of executive privilege, today through his representatives protested that he is only doing what the Bush administration did before him. The same man who once accused President Bush of “hiding behind executive privilege” is now hiding behind George W. Bush.
Executive privilege serves a necessary function in our constitutional order, reinforcing the separation of powers and protecting sensitive deliberations within the executive branch, and it is especially strong when the president or his closest advisers in the White House are involved in the communication. In this case, the administration has long denied that the president was directly involved. Instead, Attorney General Eric Holder wasted everyone’s time invoking a spurious form of deliberative privilege that was completely decoupled from executive privilege. Such a privilege has no force vis-à-vis Congress. By finally invoking executive privilege yesterday, the president belatedly acknowledged that his attorney general was full of it.
Executive privilege has legitimate uses — and illegitimate uses. For instance, it is not intended to be used merely to protect the president from political embarrassment stemming from grievous errors in judgment by members of his cabinet or officers of the departments over which they preside. There is good reason to believe that in this case the privilege is being abused.