Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

These House members rejected a chance to help on flood insurance

For the past two days a parade of U.S. representatives have stood on the House floor and pleaded on behalf of procedural maneuvers that might have led to a quick vote on a Senate proposal for flood insurance relief. On both days, the attempts were squashed.

Times files

For the past two days a parade of U.S. representatives have stood on the House floor and pleaded on behalf of procedural maneuvers that might have led to a quick vote on a Senate proposal for flood insurance relief. On both days, the attempts were squashed.

Call it a political stunt. Call it a legislative long shot.

Call it whatever you wish, but for the past two days a parade of U.S. representatives have stood on the House floor and pleaded on behalf of procedural maneuvers that might have led to a quick vote on a Senate proposal for flood insurance relief.

On both afternoons, the attempts were squashed.

Now in the grand scheme of things, this wasn't a huge deal because the odds of these moves leading anywhere were always going to be slim.

But here's why it was still interesting:

In both cases, the vote went neatly along party lines. And so an argument could be made that a lot of politicians sided with their party instead of their constituents.

Or here's another way of looking at it:

If all of the Republicans from Florida and Louisiana — states hit hard by flood insurance premiums — had been on board either day, the long shot would have worked.

By itself, that would not have guaranteed the successful passage of the Senate's proposal to delay the Biggert-Waters Act for four years. There still would have been more hoops to jump through before that bill passed the House.

But wouldn't you think elected officials from Florida would want to demonstrate support for flood insurance reform at every opportunity?

"Gus does support the Senate bill,'' said Elizabeth Hittos, the chief of staff for Rep. Gus Bilirakis. "In fact, he is a co-sponsor of the House version of the Senate bill.''

Still, Bilirakis voted twice against the procedural moves that would have given the Senate bill additional life as an amendment on unrelated House legislation.

And Bilirakis wasn't alone. Hernando's Richard Nugent voted the same way. So did Hillsborough's Dennis Ross, as well as the 13 other Florida Republicans.

The standard explanation is that the House is working on its own flood insurance reforms. And it is true that Bilirakis and Ross have both come up with plans.

The problem is that Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a Texas Republican who is chairman of the Financial Services Committee that oversees flood insurance, has shown little interest in changing Biggert-Waters, which means legislation may never get out of that committee.

So why not support a back-door attempt to get the Senate proposal on a bill? Why not demonstrate a united front in states where people are hurting? Why not make it clear that Florida cannot afford to let this issue slide?

For any idea that the Senate proposal is merely a delay and not a fix is silly. The four-year postponement would force FEMA to do a mandated affordability study, and would give extra time to recruit private insurers and come up with alternative solutions. Not to mention, it might keep some residents from losing their homes.

Now if Ross or Bilirakis or congressmen from Louisiana, New Jersey or New York manage to get a meaningful bill out of committee and to the House floor, then perhaps their acquiescence to partisan politics this week will have paid dividends.

But if nothing is done, or a watered-down bill is proposed, then your local representatives better be prepared to explain why they let an opportunity pass.

It may have been borne out of desperation, but that's exactly where a lot of Tampa Bay residents find themselves.

These House members rejected a chance to help on flood insurance 02/05/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 8:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. A 5,000-year-old stone carving may be the world's first drawing of an eclipse

    Space

    An unassuming grass-covered stone mound outside of Dublin, Ireland, may be home to the world's oldest visual representation of a solar eclipse.

    This 5,000-year-old stone carving in Meath, Ireland, predating Stonehenge by at least 1,000 years, may be the world's oldest surviving depiction of an eclipse. [Courtesy of Michael Fox-Boynevalleytours.com]
  2. Kriseman picks Floribbean restaurant for Manhattan Casino

    Blogs

    Mayor Rick Kriseman picked a Floribbean-themed restaurant to highlight turning a new page in the historic Manhattan Casino, which has been shuttered for more than a year after the city …

    Kriseman makes his choice on a new tenant for the iconic Manhattan Casino: Floribbean cuisine
  3. Man arrested after authorities say he left kids in hot car at Publix

    Public Safety

    ZEPHYRHILLS — A Wesley Chapel man faces charges of child neglect after authorities say he left three children in a vehicle in the afternoon heat while he went into Publix to buy diapers.

    Oladele Iyunade
  4. Gradebook podcast: On hate speech at UF, and education reform in the Florida Legislature

    Blogs

    National events hit Florida hard this week, as the white nationalist group at the center of violent protests in Virginia worked to cement plans for a rally in Tally. Uni …

  5. Mother of woman killed in Charlottesville say she will not speak to Trump

    Nation

    The mother of the woman who was run down by a car during violent clashes in Charlottesville, Va., said Friday that after seeing President Donald Trump's comments equivocating between white supremacist protesters and those demonstrating against them, she does not wish to speak with him.

    Susan Bro, mother to Heather Heyer, speaks during a memorial for her daughter on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017, at the Paramount Theater in Charlottesville, Va.  Heyer was killed Saturday, when a car rammed into a crowd of people protesting a white nationalist rally.  [Andrew Shurtleff | Daily Progress via AP]