LoBiondo Votes Against Efforts to Drastically Increase Fees on Flood Insurance Policyholders in South Jersey

Nov 14, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With a region still recovering from Superstorm Sandy, U.S. Congressman Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02) today vowed to continue to fight against drastic increases to flood insurance premiums for South Jersey policyholders.

LoBiondo spoke on the House floor prior to passage of the “21st Century Flood Reform Act” which he strongly opposed. The video of his remarks is available here and speaks for itself.

Recalling the difficulty in negotiating with House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (TX-05) during the 2014 debate on flood insurance, LoBiondo anticipated “hand to hand combat”. The House Financial Services Committee approved a series of bills, labeled the “21st Century Flood Reform” in June. Objecting to several key provisions, LoBiondo and a coalition of Republican coastal lawmakers were able to force three substantial changes prior to today’s vote:

  • Restarting the grandfathered rate elimination claim count at zero (not including past flooding incidents);
  • Eliminating the prohibition on new coverage for structures with high-value replacement costs; and,
  • Restricting the elimination of insurance coverage for multiple-loss properties only if claims paid out exceed 3x the value of the structure (Previously the provisions kicked in at 2x the value of the structure).

To address LoBiondo’s remaining issues with the package, he filed an amendment with Representative Peter King (NY-02) with the House Rules Committee earlier this week that would have additionally:

  • Lowered cap on premiums for primary residences from $10,000 to $5,000;
  • Eliminated consideration of coastal and inland locations to justify premium rates;
  • Eliminated an opt-out mechanism for mandatory coverage requirement on commercial properties; and,
  • Reduced the potential for sanctions against communities with repetitively flooded areas by increasing threshold to 100 percent repetitive loss communities only.

The House Rules Committee rejected LoBiondo and Kind’s amendment, scheduling a floor vote for today. LoBiondo announced his opposition immediately.

Below is the timeline of LoBiondo’s involvement in negotiating with Hensarling and House Republican Leadership, specifically Majority Whip Steve Scalise (LA-01) prior to the vote. Staff continuously met throughout:

  • May 2017: Negotiations with House Financial Services Chairman Hensarling and Housing Subcommittee Chairman Duffy begin.
  • July 2017: LoBiondo along with Representatives King, Garret Graves (LA-06) and Steve Palazzo (MS-04) sent a letter to House Republican Leadership expressing the lack of support from Republicans for Hensarling’s Committee-approved package. Twenty-six (26) Republican members signed the letter.
  • September 2017: A 90-day extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) approved by Congress. New deadline for reauthorization is December 8th.
  • October 2017: LoBiondo and King along with Representatives Cedric Richmond (LA-02) and Ted Deutch (FL-22) send a bipartisan letter to House Republican Leadership urging a straight-forward increase for the NFIP borrowing authority in the wake of the 2017 hurricane season. Twenty-nine (29) members sign on.
  • November 2017: Scalise-Hensarling deal struck regarding grandfathered properties and repetitive loss communities. While supporting those changes, LoBiondo, King and other coastal lawmakers remain opposed to the bill as a whole and mobilized Republican members against the bill.

The legislation – the “21st Century Flood Reform Act” – passed the House today 237 to 189. Subsequently LoBiondo urges the Senate to reject the legislation and approve a straight-forward two (2) year reauthorization of existing law.