An election-year vote to deal with steep hikes in flood-insurance premiums is putting House Republican leaders back in familiar territory. Once again, they’ll need support from Democrats to enact a bill that would repeal recent reforms intended to repair a federal program soaked in debt.
But this time, under the process set up by Republicans to bring a Wednesday vote, if enough Democrats refuse to go along, they could risk being blamed for the measure’s defeat. For their part, key House Democrats were not saying what they’ll do.
“Although there have been productive conversations with Republican leadership, I still have significant concerns that the measure will not provide the necessary relief to those facing skyrocketing flood insurance premiums,” said Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., a leader of the effort to address the problems. Meanwhile, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer’s office wasn’t saying whether many Democrats will vote for the GOP bill.
As of Monday, House Republican leaders who have been blocking a vote on a Senate-passed bill had scheduled their own measure on Wednesday’s suspension calendar, meaning it will require backing from two-thirds of the members present to pass. In other words, some of the 199 Democrats will have to go along to get a conference with the Senate on its bill.
The House measure repeals provisions of a bill enacted in 2012 and cosponsored by Waters and former Rep. Judy Biggert, R-Ill. The already-passed Senate bill would delay but not repeal the 2012 law’s adjustments to rate maps for the National Flood Insurance Program — which is more than $24 billion in the red — for four years.
Some House Republicans want to permanently reinstate grandfathered flood-insurance rates, which they argue would help stabilize the real estate market and provide a refund for people who have had large flood-insurance rate increases due to the sale or purchase of a home.
Still, some conservative groups are pressing lawmakers to oppose the bill. They say the Biggert-Waters Act — against the backdrop of a long-term budget crisis — represented a major step in the direction of fiscal responsibility by fixing a program that is tens of billions of dollars in debt.
“This bill represents a fundamental betrayal of the free-market principles and fiscal responsibility the House leadership claims to embrace,” said R.J. Lehmann, a senior fellow at the R Street Institute, a libertarian think tank.
But Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., who is running for a Senate seat and has positioned himself as a leader in the effort to resolve skyrocketing flood-insurance premiums, said in a statement that “support for this bill has been overwhelming.”
Waters’s office, meanwhile, said the GOP legislation would repeal provisions of the 2012 law that would raise insurance rates for policyholders who are “grandfathered” into rates below actuarial value. Waters also warned that the bill contains provisions that, as written, may not guarantee the affordability of flood insurance for many policyholders. Unless those shortcomings are addressed, Waters said, she will continue to press for a floor vote on the Senate bill, which is cosponsored by 235 House members.
The back-and-forth could mean that House members might not see a final version of what they are asked to vote on until right before it comes to the floor.
What We're Following See More »
It’s all about the 1% and Wall Street versus everyone else for Bernie Sanders—even when he’s talking about race relations. Like Hillary Clinton, he needs to appeal to African-American and Hispanic voters in coming states, but he insists on doing so through his lens of class warfare. When he got a question from the moderators about the plight of black America, he noted that during the great recession, African Americans “lost half their wealth,” and “instead of tax breaks for billionaires,” a Sanders presidency would deliver jobs for kids. On the very next question, he downplayed the role of race in inequality, saying, “It’s a racial issue, but it’s also a general economic issue.”
It’s been said in just about every news story since New Hampshire: the primaries are headed to states where Hillary Clinton will do well among minority voters. Leaving nothing to chance, she underscored that point in her opening statement in the Milwaukee debate tonight, saying more needs to be done to help “African Americans who face discrimination in the job market” and immigrant families. She also made an explicit reference to “equal pay for women’s work.” Those boxes she’s checking are no coincidence: if she wins women, blacks and Hispanics, she wins the nomination.
Under pressure from a judge, the State Department will release about 550 of Hillary Clinton’s emails—“roughly 14 percent of the 3,700 remaining Clinton emails—on Saturday, in the middle of the Presidents Day holiday weekend.” All of the emails were supposed to have been released last month. Related: State subpoenaed the Clinton Foundation last year, which brings the total number of current Clinton investigations to four, says the Daily Caller.
UPDATED: Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) will not be playing the role of Ralph Nader in this year’s election. Speaking in Dallas today, Webb said, “We looked at the possibility of an independent candidacy. Theoretically, it could be done, but it is enormously costly and time sensitive, and I don’t see the fundraising trajectory where we could make a realistic run.”