Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) spoke on the Senate floor this evening to discuss the need for the Senate to quickly reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Earlier today, the House of Representatives passed a four-month extension of the NFIP and the measure now faces Senate approval before the July 31st deadline.
Last week Rubio published an op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times calling for a long term solution for NFIP. He also issued a video statement calling for a six-month extension of NFIP.
A rough and partial transcript of Rubio’s remarks is below:
I'm here today to tell you how critical it is that the Senate act on this as soon as possible. Because this program will expire, next Tuesday, July 31, six days from today, if we do not the take action. Now let me preface everything I’m about to say, by telling you this program is badly broken. It is not financially stable, it is not financially sustainable. It is a program that needs to reformed, I don't like the way it's designed one bit and I've been working for years to try to reform it and trying to open up space for the private sector to come in and compete with the program and provide more options for the people who need it.
I don't like the way the program is designed and I desperately want us to reform it to be consistent with market principles and sustainable in the long term. The answer is not to let it expire, the answer is not to let it expire because if we do, we're going to have an economic catastrophe. If we allow flood insurance to expire, there are real estate closings that will stop. And I would add one more point to it and that is we would be allowing this to expire in the middle of the hurricane season.
I personally support reforms that will increase private market involvement in this program. But I want to go back to the practicality of it. While I want there to be reforms, … we should not hold hostage real people and families whose homes and lives will be at risk while Congress tries to figure this out. It has to be done. Now I don't want to be in this cycle of perpetual extension. I'm as frustrated about it as anybody else. I wish we could find some permanence to this that in a way that didn't wipe everybody out by raising the rates but was also sustainable in the long term. We have to continue to work through that. As the Senator from Florida recognizing that over a third of the total policies nationwide are in the state that I represent, I have to come here today with a strong sense of urgency and arguing on behalf of my neighbors and constituents and my own family who depends on flood insurance in order not just to protect their homes in the middle of a hurricane cycle but to be able to transact real estate deals, selling a home, buying one, even commercial building, all these things that depend on this market being healthy.
I reiterate where I started, in the strongest possible terms, I cannot emphasize this enough. I truly hope that we will bring this vote -- this reauthorization for a vote as soon as possible, that my colleagues will cooperate because at Tuesday at midnight of next week, if we haven't acted, there will be hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people, across this country, and many of them in my home state, that are going to find that their property in the middle of hurricane season is not covered against water damage because they cannot get flood insurance, and that would be catastrophic for our economy and it would be catastrophic for Florida and the impacted states. And so I’m just here to repeat and urge as strongly as I can, that the leadership bring this up for a vote as soon as we are done dealing with the four appropriation bills that are before us. There is not another option. We cannot allow this to expire.