Amendment Text: S.Amdt.2709 — 113th Congress (2013-2014)

Shown Here:
Amendment as Modified (01/29/2014)

This Amendment appears on page S579 in the following article from the Congressional Record.



[Pages S565-S593]
          HOMEOWNER FLOOD INSURANCE AFFORDABILITY ACT OF 2014

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
resume consideration of the motion to proceed to S. 1926, which the 
clerk will report.
  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       Motion to proceed to S. 1926, a bill to delay the 
     implementation of certain provisions of the Biggert-Waters 
     Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 and to reform the National 
     Association of Registered Agents and Brokers, and for other 
     purposes.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, all postcloture time 
is yielded back and the motion to proceed is agreed to.
  The clerk will report the bill by title.
  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       A bill (S. 1926) to delay the implementation of certain 
     provisions of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act 
     of 2012 and to reform the National Association of Registered 
     Agents and Brokers, and for other purposes.


               Amendments Nos. 2702, 2704, 2705, and 2698

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, Amendments Nos. 
2702, 2704, 2705, and 2698 are considered proposed and agreed to.
  The amendments are as follows:


                           amendment no. 2702

  (Purpose: To exempt certain loans from the escrow requirement under 
    section 102(d)(1) of the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973)

       At the end of title I, add the following:

     SEC. 1__. EXCEPTIONS TO ESCROW REQUIREMENT FOR FLOOD 
                   INSURANCE PAYMENTS.

       (a) In General.--Section 102(d)(1) of the Flood Disaster 
     Protection Act of 1973 (42 U.S.C. 4012a(d)(1)) is amended--
       (1) in subparagraph (A), in the second sentence, by 
     striking ``subparagraph (C)'' and inserting ``subparagraph 
     (B)''; and
       (2) in subparagraph (B)--
       (A) in clause (ii), by redesignating subclauses (I) and 
     (II) as items (aa) and (bb), respectively, and adjusting the 
     margins accordingly;
       (B) by redesignating clauses (i) and (ii) as subclauses (I) 
     and (II), respectively, and adjusting the margins 
     accordingly;
       (C) in the matter preceding subclause (I), as redesignated 
     by subparagraph (B), by striking ``(A) or (B), if--'' and 
     inserting the following: ``(A)--
       ``(i) if--'';
       (D) by striking the period at the end and inserting ``; 
     or''; and
       (E) by adding at the end the following
       ``(ii) in the case of a loan that--

       ``(I) is in a junior or subordinate position to a senior 
     lien secured by the same residential improved real estate or 
     mobile home for which flood insurance is being provided at 
     the time of the origination of the loan;
       ``(II) is secured by residential improved real estate or a 
     mobile home that is part of a condominium, cooperative, or 
     other project development, if the residential improved real 
     estate or mobile home is covered by a flood insurance policy 
     that--

       ``(aa) meets the requirements that the regulated lending 
     institution is required to enforce under subsection (b)(1);
       ``(bb) is provided by the condominium association, 
     cooperative, homeowners association, or other applicable 
     group; and
       ``(cc) the premium for which is paid by the condominium 
     association, cooperative, homeowners association, or other 
     applicable group as a common expense;

       ``(III) is secured by residential improved real estate or a 
     mobile home that is used as collateral for a business 
     purpose;
       ``(IV) is a home equity line of credit;
       ``(V) is a nonperforming loan; or
       ``(VI) has a term of not longer than 12 months.''.

       (b) Applicability.--
       (1) In general.--
       (A) Required application.--The amendments to section 
     102(d)(1) of the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 (42 
     U.S.C. 4012a(d)(1)) made by section 100209(a) of the Biggert-
     Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-
     141; 126 Stat. 920) and by subsection (a) of this section 
     shall apply to any loan that is originated, refinanced, 
     increased, extended, or renewed on or after January 1, 2016.
       (B) Optional application.--
       (i) Definitions.--In this subparagraph--

       (I) the terms ``Federal entity for lending regulation'', 
     ``improved real estate'', ``regulated lending institution'', 
     and ``servicer'' have the meanings given the terms in section 
     3 of the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 (42 U.S.C. 
     4003);
       (II) the term ``outstanding loan'' means a loan that--

       (aa) is outstanding as of January 1, 2016;
       (bb) is not subject to the requirement to escrow premiums 
     and fees for flood insurance under section 102(d)(1) of the 
     Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 (42 U.S.C. 4012a(d)(1)) 
     as in effect on July 5, 2012; and
       (cc) would, if the loan had been originated, refinanced, 
     increased, extended, or renewed on or after January 1, 2016, 
     be subject to the requirements under section 102(d)(1)(A) of 
     the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973, as amended; and

       (III) the term ``section 102(d)(1)(A) of the Flood Disaster 
     Protection Act of 1973, as amended'' means section 
     102(d)(1)(A) of the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 (42 
     U.S.C. 4012a(d)(1)(A)), as amended by--

       (aa) section 100209(a) of the Biggert-Waters Flood 
     Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-141; 126 Stat. 
     920); and
       (bb) subsection (a) of this section.
       (ii) Option to escrow flood insurance payments.--Each 
     Federal entity for lending regulation (after consultation and 
     coordination with the Federal Financial Institutions 
     Examination Council) shall, by regulation, direct that each 
     regulated lending institution or servicer of an outstanding 
     loan shall offer and make available to a borrower the option 
     to have the borrower's payment of premiums and fees for flood 
     insurance under the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 (42 
     U.S.C. 4001 et seq.), including the escrow of such payments, 
     be treated in the same manner provided under section 
     102(d)(1)(A) of the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973, as 
     amended.
       (2) Repeal of 2-year delay on applicability.--Subsection 
     (b) of section 100209 of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance 
     Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-141; 126 Stat. 920) is 
     repealed.
       (3) Rule of construction.--Nothing in this section or the 
     amendments made by this section shall be construed to 
     supersede, during the period beginning on July 6, 2012 and 
     ending on December 31, 2015, the requirements under section 
     102(d)(1) of the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 (42 
     U.S.C. 4012a(d)(1)), as in effect on July 5, 2012.


                           amendment no. 2704

    (Purpose: To require the Administrator of the Federal Emergency 
  Management Agency to make publicly available data that provide the 
  basis for risk premium rates for flood insurance, to allow monthly 
   installment payments for premiums, and to ensure that mitigation 
    activities completed by an owner or lessee of real property are 
 accounted for when determining risk premium rates for flood insurance)

       At the end of section 103, add the following:
       (h) Disclosure.--
       (1) Change in rates under biggert-waters.--Not later than 
     the date that is 6 months before the date on which any change 
     in risk premium rates for flood insurance coverage under the 
     National Flood Insurance Program resulting from the amendment 
     made by section 100207 of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance 
     Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-141; 126 Stat. 919) is 
     implemented, the Administrator shall make publicly available 
     the rate tables and underwriting guidelines that provide the 
     basis for the change.
       (2) Change in rates under this act.--Not later than the 
     date that is 6 months before the date on which any change in 
     risk premium rates for flood insurance coverage under the 
     National Flood Insurance Program resulting from this Act or 
     any amendment made by this Act is implemented, the 
     Administrator shall make publicly available the rate tables 
     and underwriting guidelines that provide the basis for the 
     change.
       (3) Report on policy and claims data.--
       (A) In general.--Not later than 90 days after the date of 
     enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall submit to 
     Congress a report on the feasibility of--
       (i) releasing property-level policy and claims data for 
     flood insurance coverage under the National Flood Insurance 
     Program; and
       (ii) establishing guidelines for releasing property-level 
     policy and claims data for flood insurance coverage under the 
     National Flood Insurance Program in accordance with section 
     552a of title 5, United States Code (commonly known as the 
     ``Privacy Act of 1974'').
       (B) Contents.--The report submitted under subparagraph (A) 
     shall include--
       (i) an analysis and assessment of how releasing property-
     level policy and claims data for flood insurance coverage 
     under the National Flood Insurance Program will aid policy 
     holders and insurers to understand how the Administration 
     determines actuarial premium rates and assesses flood risks; 
     and
       (ii) recommendations for protecting personal information in 
     accordance with section 552a of title 5, United States Code 
     (commonly known as the ``Privacy Act of 1974'').
       At the end of title I, add the following:

     SEC. 110. MONTHLY INSTALLMENT PAYMENTS FOR PREMIUMS.

       Section 1308(g) of the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 
     (42 U.S.C. 4015(g)) is amended by striking ``either annually 
     or in more frequent installments'' and inserting ``annually, 
     monthly, or in other installments that are more frequent than 
     annually''.

[[Page S566]]

     SEC. 111. ACCOUNTING FOR FLOOD MITIGATION ACTIVITIES IN 
                   ESTIMATES OF PREMIUM RATES.

       Section 1307(a)(1) of the National Flood Insurance Act of 
     1968 (42 U.S.C. 4014(a)(1)) is amended by amending 
     subparagraph (A) to read as follows:
       ``(A) based on consideration of--
       ``(i) the risk involved and accepted actuarial principles; 
     and
       ``(ii) the flood mitigation activities that an owner or 
     lessee has undertaken on a property, including differences in 
     the risk involved due to land use measures, floodproofing, 
     flood forecasting, and similar measures,''.


                           amendment no. 2705

 (Purpose: To clarify that communities that successfully appeal flood 
   elevation determinations based on errors by the Federal Emergency 
Management Agency through the Scientific Resolution Panel are eligible 
       for reimbursements for expenses incurred in such appeals)

       In section 106, strike subsection (a) and insert the 
     following:
       (a) In General.--Section 1363(f) of the National Flood 
     Insurance Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 4104(f)) is amended--
       (1) in the first sentence, by inserting after ``as the case 
     may be,'' the following: ``or, in the case of an appeal that 
     is resolved by submission of conflicting data to the 
     Scientific Resolution Panel provided for in section 1363A, 
     the community,''; and
       (2) by striking the second sentence and inserting the 
     following: ``The Administrator may use such amounts from the 
     National Flood Insurance Fund established under section 1310 
     as may be necessary to carry out this subsection.''.


                           amendment no. 2698

   (Purpose: To increase the amount of substantial improvement to a 
     property that triggers the loss of flood insurance subsidies)

Purpose: To increase the amount of substantial improvement to a 
property that triggers the loss of flood insurance subsidies.

       At the end of title I, add the following:

     SEC. 1__. HOME IMPROVEMENT FAIRNESS.

       Section 1307(a)(2)(E)(ii) of the National Flood Insurance 
     Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 4014(a)(2)(E)(ii)) is amended by 
     striking ``30 percent'' and inserting ``50 percent''.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New York.


                           Amendment No. 2708

  Mrs. GILLIBRAND. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to call up my 
amendment No. 2708 and ask for its consideration.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The clerk will report.
  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from New York [Mrs. Gillibrand] proposes an 
     amendment numbered 2708.

  Mrs. GILLIBRAND. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the 
reading of the amendment be dispensed with.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The amendment is as follows:

    (Purpose: To require the Administrator of the Federal Emergency 
Management Agency to issue guidelines for methods, other than building 
   elevation, that owners of certain urban residential buildings may 
               implement to mitigate against flood risk)

       At the end of title I, add the following:

     SEC. 1__. FLOOD MITIGATION METHODS FOR URBAN BUILDINGS.

       (a) In General.--Not later than 1 year after the date of 
     enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall issue 
     guidelines for property owners that--
       (1) provide alternative methods of mitigation, other than 
     building elevation, to reduce flood risk to urban residential 
     buildings that cannot be elevated due to their structural 
     characteristics, including--
       (A) types of building materials; and
       (B) types of floodproofing; and
       (2) inform property owners about how the implementation of 
     mitigation methods described in paragraph (1) may affect risk 
     premium rates for flood insurance coverage under the National 
     Flood Insurance Program.
       (b) Calculation of Risk Premium Rates.--In calculating the 
     risk premium rate charged for flood insurance for a property 
     under section 1308 of the National Flood Insurance Act of 
     1968 (42 U.S.C. 4015), the Administrator shall take into 
     account the implementation of any mitigation method 
     identified by the Administrator in the guidance issued under 
     subsection (a) of this section.

  Mrs. GILLIBRAND. Mr. President, I first wish to thank Senator 
Menendez, Senator Landrieu, and Senator Isakson for their tremendous 
leadership on the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, of which 
I am a very proud cosponsor, and for working with me and my staff on an 
amendment that is so critical to so many New Yorkers who are still 
recovering from Superstorm Sandy.
  My amendment is quite simple and common sense. It is aimed to help 
homeowners who are currently stuck in a bureaucratic ditch that is 
impossible for them to climb out of due to the immovable reality of the 
buildings in which they live.
  Under today's FEMA policy, flood insurance premium rates are based on 
the elevation of the house relative to the base flood elevation, which 
is the elevation that FEMA calculates that floodwaters have a 1-percent 
chance of rising to in any given year.
  Under normal circumstances, homes can be elevated to avoid high 
insurance rates that are assessed on homes that are built below the 
base flood elevation in special flood hazard areas, but in places such 
as New York and New Jersey this is impossible for owners of older urban 
homes, such as brownstones, row houses, and multifamily buildings, 
which can predate the Civil War, which in many instances cannot be 
raised due to structural characteristics and were built before flood 
maps were in place.
  When their homes are mapped in a flood zone, they are simply left 
without any option to lower their flood insurance premiums, which can 
be as high as tens of thousands of dollars each year. To fix this, my 
amendment would require FEMA to provide a uniform set of guidance that 
provides FEMA-approved methods of mitigation for homeowners who simply 
cannot elevate their homes. This amendment would require FEMA to look 
at whether a homeowner has implemented any of the prescribed 
alternatives and take that into consideration when calculating a home's 
flood insurance risk premium. By providing a clear set of mitigation 
alternatives to these homeowners, this amendment will help New Yorkers 
and homeowners across the country who cannot elevate their homes to 
reduce their flood risk. It will help homeowners prevent costly damage 
to their homes during the next storm or flood and save money and 
potential disaster recovery costs in the long term.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll
  Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, I rise in strong support of the flood 
insurance fix bill on the floor today. I urge my colleagues on a 
bipartisan basis to come together and pass this first crucial step 
toward getting it right with the National Flood Insurance Program. It 
is important for America. It is important for millions upon millions of 
American homeowners, not just in Louisiana, not just in Florida, but in 
every State. Every State in the country is absolutely affected.
  I also specifically urge my colleagues to defeat the Toomey 
amendment, which I think is very well intended but will not get the job 
done, and to waive the budget point of order, which is a largely 
technical point of order. I will explain each of those in turn.
  First of all, I will explain the need for this bill to get things 
right. All of us came together over a year ago and passed the so-called 
Biggert-Waters Act, to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program 
and to reform it in important ways. We needed to do that broad-brush. 
The program needed to be continued, and not just in short-term fits and 
starts, which had been the pattern for many years. In fact, in 2010 it 
was so bad that we actually let the program lapse four different times 
by inaction, shutting down thousands upon thousands of real estate 
closings that we needed to build our economy, shutting those down every 
time. So we needed that reauthorization. We needed and still need 
reforms of the program. We need to build up the program to make it 
fiscally sustainable, to make sure that over time we get revenues, 
premiums coming in that cover the full cost of the program. There is no 
debate about that. That is why we passed that bill.
  What was not foreseen was that in some significant number of cases, 
those reforms, once they were put into effect, would actually lead to 
completely unaffordable rate increases--a completely unsustainable path 
forward that would not even get us toward the goal of building up the 
fund and building up the program to make it fiscally sustainable. No 
expert predicted that beforehand. No one from FEMA said:

[[Page S567]]

You will have some rates that are completely unaffordable. No outside 
insurance experts said that. But once the details of the 
reauthorization began to be put in place, that became very apparent. We 
do not know exactly how many cases we would have like this, but we know 
they are not just isolated cases. We know they are not just in coastal 
communities. They are in every State, to some extent or another, around 
the country. Over time, Members of both parties from every State have 
begun to understand that, which brings us together hopefully in a 
constructive way on the floor today.
  Certainly, that situation is dire and the threat is very real in 
Louisiana. Months ago, for instance, I visited a neighborhood in St. 
Charles Parish, which is part of southeast Louisiana, right on the 
Mississippi River. I visited a very nice, solid middle-class 
neighborhood. I met with many homeowners there. They presented me with 
a box--a box this big, at least--full of keys, house keys. They were 
these folks' actual house keys. They were saying: If this is not fixed, 
if this is not done right in time, we are going to have to turn these 
keys in to the banks, to the government, to whomever, because we would 
face not only premium increases. We had all accepted premium increases 
as part of the reform and as part of the reauthorization, but these 
would be completely unaffordable, unsustainable increases--literally 
going to $12,000, $18,000 or $27,000 a year--not on a millionaire's 
home but on a modest middle-class home. That just doesn't work.

  These folks were saying very sincerely, very directly: Here are my 
home keys because that is where this is headed.
  That is not right on so many different levels. First and foremost, it 
is not right for those Americans who have lived by the rules every step 
of the way, who built to the right elevation when they built their 
home, who got the flood insurance required by law, required by 
prudence, and paid all of their premiums. They went through mitigation 
programs, if they could, to raise their homes in many cases.
  These are folks who are not living right on the coast, who are not 
choosing highly dangerous areas, and who do not have second homes, 
beach homes. We are not talking about that at all. We are talking about 
a solid middle-class neighborhood way off the gulf coast.
  These are people who followed the rules every step of the way who 
still failed the prospect of those completely unaffordable increases. 
That is not right, and it is not fair.
  On a second level, that reality threatens whole communities and it 
threatens our economy because if that were allowed to happen in any 
significant number of cases, it would be an economic spiral downward. 
Banks would be burdened with foreclosures. Local businesses would be 
hurt significantly. Whole communities would be in an economic spiral 
downward.
  We are not just talking about second homes on a beach. We are not 
talking about that at all in Louisiana. This bill does not give any 
relief regarding second homes, for instance. We are talking about a lot 
of communities and a real and unsustainable hit to our economy.
  On a third and final level, that reality would ensure we don't even 
get to the goal of these reforms, which is to make the system whole and 
fiscally sustainable. To do that we need more folks in the National 
Flood Insurance Program, not folks leaving and turning in their keys. 
That will kill any effort to make the program solid fiscally and 
sustainable fiscally. So on every level we cannot allow this to happen.
  The Menendez-Isakson bill, with the help of many other Members, 
including myself, was put together to get us to the right place. It 
takes the important first step to make sure we get it right, FEMA does 
the mapping correctly--which they are not doing in some cases now--and 
FEMA does the affordability study mandated in the original Biggert-
Waters, but which FEMA has not even begun yet. We do all those things 
to get this right and avoid completely unaffordable rate increases.
  I urge my colleagues on a bipartisan basis to support this good bill.
  We also need your support in defeating the Toomey amendment and in 
waiving the budget point of order. Let me speak about those briefly.
  Senator Toomey's amendment is very well intended, but it falls short, 
in my opinion. It limits any delay in rate increases to 2 years, and 
some rate increases continue for those 2 years. Most importantly, it 
doesn't mandate and ensure that FEMA ever gets through this 
affordability study, ever makes recommendations to Congress for the 
ultimate fix, and doesn't give us any time to react and legislate in 
that area. It doesn't ensure in any way that FEMA gets its mapping 
right based on true sound science and engineering methodologies.
  That is just kicking the can down the road and not ensuring in any 
meaningful way that we are going to get it right. That simply isn't 
good enough.
  We need to tie in any delay to figuring out the ultimate fix by 
having FEMA complete its affordability study, by making FEMA make 
recommendations to us, by giving us 6 months to act on those 
recommendations, by mandating that FEMA do its mapping correctly and 
not have rate increases before it rushes forward with incorrect 
mapping, which is going on right now in some cases.
  That is what the underlying bill does. That is what the Toomey 
amendment does not do--as well intended as it is.
  Secondly, there will be a budget point-of-order vote, and we do need 
60 votes to waive that budget point of order. I will vote ``yes'' to 
waive it--as a strong fiscal conservative--because this is necessary to 
get this national flood insurance system right and to make it fiscally 
sustainable.
  In fact, over the 10-year budget window that we normally use in 
scoring, this bill has no score over those 10 years. It only has some 
scores in some intermediate periods of time, which gives rise to the 
budget point of order.
  I urge my colleagues to vote to waive that point of order, knowing 
there is no score over 10 years and also knowing that, quite frankly, 
the fiscal assumptions about the current law are enormously flawed. The 
notion that we are going to make the National Flood Insurance Program 
more stable and more fiscally sustainable by having a bunch of premiums 
go up to $27,000 a year on a modest middle-class home is crazy. That is 
not going to get us to a better place. That is going to get to us a 
worse place. That is going to shrink the program and have people leave 
the program--paying no premiums, not paying higher premiums.
  Yet raising insurance premiums has to be part of the solution, but 
unaffordable premium increases aren't part of the solution because 
people can't afford to pay them. So they will pay zero instead of 
something substantial. They will leave the program instead of putting 
more homeowners and properties in the program, which is essential to 
get to a strong and stable fiscal situation.
  Again, on a bipartisan basis, I urge my colleagues to support this 
bill--it is a very important step to stabilize and fix the situation--
to defeat the Toomey amendment and to waive the budget point of order, 
which is absolutely necessary in this process to support a good bill.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Jersey.
  Mr. MENENDEZ. I thank the Senator from Louisiana for his input into 
the legislation, his work, and his advocacy. I agree with him on the 
other underlying statements that he made, particularly as it relates to 
the necessity for the legislation, as well as the opposition to the 
Toomey amendment.
  I understand what Senator Toomey is trying to do, but I agree it 
doesn't meet the ultimate challenge. I agree as well on the budget 
point of order for the reason Senator Vitter says.
  I thank the Senator for his support.
  I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. MENENDEZ. I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum 
call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the time 
that takes place during any subsequent quorum calls--or the subsequent 
quorum call that I am going to ask

[[Page S568]]

for--be equally divided on the Gillibrand amendment.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. MENENDEZ. I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. DURBIN. I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum 
call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                      Tribute to Hadiya Pendleton

  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I rise today to pay tribute to Hadiya 
Pendleton, lost to gunfire 1 year ago today, January 29, 2013. She was 
15 years old. She was gunned down while she was standing with friends 
at a park in Chicago's South Side.
  She was a very talented, caring girl with a bright future. She was a 
sophomore at King College Prep, an honor student, and a majorette in 
the school band. This is her photograph. Those who knew her talk about 
her warm heart, her big smile, and what a great friend she was to all 
of those around her.
  A week before her death, Hadiya was in Washington, DC, performing 
with her school band for President Barack Obama's inaugural 
celebration. She was absolutely thrilled that as a high school student 
she could come out and perform for the President she loved.
  Days afterwards she was gunned down, murdered by men who allegedly 
mistook Hadiya and her friends for members of a rival street gang. I 
join with those in Chicago and across America who mourn this grim 
anniversary and I extend my condolences to her family.

  This last week or two--even longer now--it has been pretty cold in 
Chicago, bitter cold: snow, ice, with people not going outside much. 
But I wanted to make a trip Saturday morning to visit Hadiya's mom and 
dad on the occasion of this sad anniversary. Her mom Cleo, her father 
Nate, and her 11-year-old brother Nate, Jr., as well as the extended 
family, are mourning her loss.
  We sat in their apartment Saturday morning and talked a little about 
her. We talked about what it meant, what the reaction had been. The 
parents were heartened that King College Prep had not forgotten their 
daughter, that today they were having a special observance and ceremony 
to remember her. It meant a lot to her mom and dad.
  They have been here before my judiciary subcommittee when we 
discussed issues involving gun violence. They have been on television. 
They have made the rounds. But when you are there with them in their 
apartment, you know that after the cameras are gone and all the 
visitors are gone, it is still a sad remembrance of a beautiful young 
girl whose life was cut short.
  No family should have to experience what they went through, but like 
so many families who have lost loved ones to sudden violence, the 
Pendletons have decided to dedicate themselves to turning their pain 
into purpose. They are working to reduce the scourge of gun violence so 
that other families can be spared. They have established the Hadiya 
Pendleton Foundation in Chicago to create a safe space for city youth 
and provide afterschool enrichment programs to help kids avoid the 
violence on the streets.
  Incidentally, Hadiya was once featured in a public service 
announcement video where she said: It is your job as students to say no 
to gangs and yes to a great future. The foundation named after her will 
help other students reach that goal. I commend the family for their 
work on this foundation. I believe it will make a difference.
  Hadiya's family, as I mentioned, traveled to Washington to talk about 
our laws and how to change them to avoid future violence. In 
particular, they have spoken out about the need to crack down on the 
gun supply to gang members. The current Federal laws on what we call 
straw purchasing and gun trafficking are an embarrassment. They are too 
weak. They need to be strengthened. I have joined with my colleague 
Senator Mark Kirk, my Republican colleague, in a bipartisan effort, and 
a number of our colleagues have joined us to introduce tough 
legislation to crack down on the straw purchasing and trafficking. We 
call this bill the ``Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act.'' Mark 
Kirk likes to call it the Hadiya Pendleton Act. We agreed to name that 
key section after her since we believe this legislation just might 
reduce the senseless gang shootings such as the one that took her life.
  Straw purchasing, for any who don't understand it, is when a thug's 
girlfriend, who has no criminal record, goes to buy the gun and then 
hands it to him to commit a crime. He can't buy it. He couldn't walk in 
the store and buy it. He could never pass the background check, but she 
does. And when she passes it, she hands him the gun, and unfortunately 
violence and death can be the result.
  Last April, our antitrafficking legislation got 58 votes on the floor 
of the Senate--58 votes--to stop the trafficking of guns into the hands 
of criminals. That was a few votes short of what we needed. We are 
close. Our job is to convince just two or three more Senators to join 
us.
  The Pendleton family understands that even though this law seems so 
obvious, so reasonable, and can save the lives of innocent people, it 
is going to be hard to come by. There is a gun lobby here in this town. 
They are very powerful. Their allies will do everything they can to 
fight even the most popular commonsense reform, such as cracking down 
on illegal gun trafficking.
  The gun lobby says we shouldn't pass any new gun laws and that we 
should just enforce the laws already on the books. Actually, the gun 
lobby is in court every day trying to strike down the laws already on 
the books. But the bottom line is the gun lobby always seems to oppose 
laws that might reduce gun sales. They just want volume--volume of 
firearms sold. If they had their way, no questions would be asked.
  It is time to crack down on the sale of guns that end up in the hands 
of criminals and gang members. We need to push forward in Congress and 
statehouses and in the law enforcement community with strong efforts to 
cut off the supply of straw-purchased, illegally trafficked guns. The 
path may not be easy but it is the right path. And if we succeed, we 
will prevent crimes and save lives.
  I want to commend the Pendleton family for the courage they have 
shown in the face of their tragic loss. I commend them for their 
efforts to try to spare other families. I hope lawmakers will reflect 
for one brief moment about this good family, who lost this great 
daughter and now has dedicated a big part of their lives to preventing 
shootings in the future. We owe Hadiya and her mom and dad and her 
memory our best efforts to make this a safer America.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a 
quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. HELLER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                           Amendment No. 2700

  Mr. HELLER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the pending 
amendment be set aside and that I be allowed to call up amendment No. 
2700.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The clerk will report the amendment.
  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Nevada [Mr. Heller] proposes amendment 
     numbered 2700.

  Mr. HELLER. I ask unanimous consent that the reading of the amendment 
be dispensed with.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The amendment is as follows:

 (Purpose: To clarify that any private flood insurance policy accepted 
 by a State shall satisfy the mandatory purchase requirement under the 
                 Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973)

       At the end of title I, add the following:

     SEC. 1__. AUTHORITY OF STATES TO REGULATE PRIVATE FLOOD 
                   INSURANCE.

       Section 102(b)(7) of the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 
     1973 (42 U.S.C. 4012a(b)(7)) is amended to read as follows:
       ``(7) Private flood insurance defined.--In this subsection, 
     the term `private flood insurance' means an insurance policy 
     that--
       ``(A) provides flood insurance coverage;
       ``(B) is issued by an insurance company that is--

[[Page S569]]

       ``(i) licensed, admitted, or otherwise approved to engage 
     in the business of insurance in the State or jurisdiction in 
     which the insured building is located, by the insurance 
     regulator of that State or jurisdiction; or
       ``(ii) eligible as a nonadmitted insurer to provide 
     insurance in the State or jurisdiction where the property to 
     be insured is located, in accordance with section 524 of the 
     Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (15 
     U.S.C. 8204); and
       ``(C) is issued by an insurance company that is not 
     otherwise disapproved as a surplus lines insurer by the 
     insurance regulator of the State or jurisdiction where the 
     property to be insured is located.''.

  Mr. HELLER. Mr. President, I am here today to talk about the Heller-
Lee amendment to the flood insurance legislation we are currently 
considering. One of my core beliefs is that in order for Americans to 
succeed, regardless of the issue, we need more choices, we need higher 
competition, and we also need less cost. So let us talk about the NFIP.
  Right now, the National Federal Insurance Program has a near monopoly 
on the flood insurance market. In fact, I think if you ask most 
Americans if they knew there were other flood insurance policies other 
than through NFIP, you would probably get a blank stare. What most 
people don't know is that since the passage of the National Flood 
Insurance Act of 1968, private flood insurance has been understood to 
satisfy requirements and mandates to purchase flood insurance. In fact, 
when Congress passed the last flood insurance reform package under 
Biggert-Waters, Congress reaffirmed the intent that private primary 
flood insurance should satisfy requirements and those of mandatory 
purchase.
  Unfortunately, due to the lack of legislative language, there have 
been pervasive rejections of private primary flood insurance by most 
lenders. This is due to the fact that lenders are unsure about the 
validity of private-issue flood insurance, despite the fact this 
insurance has been issued and accepted in the past. For this reason, I, 
along with Senator Lee, have worked on an amendment that would provide 
clarification and hopefully eliminate this uncertainty.
  The Heller-Lee amendment provides a simple and clear definition of 
what is acceptable private flood insurance. Our amendment would define 
acceptable private flood insurance as a policy that provides flood 
insurance coverage issued by an insurance company that is licensed, 
admitted, or otherwise approved to engage in the business of insurance 
in the State or jurisdiction in which the insured building is located.
  Private insurers are already subject to statutes and regulations in 
each and every State. State insurance commissioners are the best 
regulators to allow and disallow any policy they deem proper or 
improper, and they have significant ability to assure fair and 
equitable settlements of claims.
  Further encouragement of private sector participation in the flood 
insurance market will help reduce the risks to which U.S. taxpayers are 
currently exposed. In fact, I would like to share some statements I 
just received from FEMA, after I asked FEMA if private flood insurance 
is a viable tool for some consumers to find lower cost options. FEMA 
stated:

       Private flood insurance would create competition. It is 
     possible some homeowners could find lower-cost options for 
     flood insurance as a result of privatized market competition.

  So I ask my colleagues to support the Heller-Lee amendment so we can 
give the American public more choices, higher competition, and less 
cost when it comes to flood insurance.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a 
quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mrs. FISCHER. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Baldwin). Without objection, it is so 
ordered.
  Mrs. FISCHER. I ask to speak in morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator has the floor.


                               obamacare

  Mrs. FISCHER. Madam President, I rise today on behalf of the 18,000 
Nebraskans who have contacted me to express their concerns with the 
negative impacts of Obamacare.
  Rather than addressing these problems in last night's State of the 
Union address, the President doubled down on the failed policy.
  Well, the President has had his chance to speak. Now it is time for 
my constituents to have their voices heard.
  The law is hurting my constituents. It is hurting middle class 
families. We now know that millions of Americans have lost their 
private health insurance.
  Many who have successfully enrolled in the exchange have been forced 
into plans that do not meet their families' needs. These plans often 
cost more but cover less.
  Treatments, even for those battling cancer, have been delayed.
  We learned this month that a woman named Josie Gracchi--who was 
diagnosed with breast cancer--recently lost her doctors. She was forced 
to postpone her scheduled biopsy and follow-up treatment. The reason: 
Josie's insurance rolled over into a new plan in an exchange under 
Obamacare at the start of the New Year.
  Seniors are losing their trusted doctors, too.
  Americans are disclosing deeply personal information--including their 
health care histories and Social Security numbers--to a flawed website 
ripe for hacking.
  If truth in advertising rules applied to Obamacare, it would be 
banned as an unfair and unreliable product. Let me give you an example. 
We were all told that this massive law would dramatically expand 
coverage for the uninsured. Yet a recent Wall Street Journal article 
cites a McKinsey study that undermined this promise.

       Only 11 percent of consumers who bought new coverage under 
     the law were previously uninsured, according to a McKinsey & 
     Co. survey of consumers thought to be eligible for the 
     health-law marketplaces.
       One reason for people declining to purchase plans was 
     affordability. That was cited by 52% of those who had shopped 
     for a new plan but not purchased one in McKinsey's most 
     recent sampling, performed in January.

  As it turns out, the ``Affordable Care'' Act is hardly affordable, 
and the vast majority of those who purchased insurance through the 
exchanges already had health insurance.
  Last week the CEO of Aetna, a major insurance company, said Obamacare 
was not attracting enough uninsured people to work. He said more 
premium increases are on the horizon.
  ``Are they going to be double-digit,'' he said, ``or are we going to 
get beat up because they're double-digit or are we just going to have 
to pull out of the program?''
  And recently Moody's downgraded health insurers from stable to 
negative based on uncertainty related to Obamacare. The downgrade is a 
result of the administration's series of unilateral changes, which only 
invite even more uncertainty.
  This pervasive uncertainty is also plaguing our small business 
owners, who are struggling with the onslaught of new regulations. 
Americans see selective delays for some, but not all. Hardworking men 
and women--our entrepreneurs--are the backbone of our economy. Any sort 
of meaningful economic recovery will only come when they have the 
confidence to grow and expand their businesses and that requires 
certainty.
  Obamacare robs them of that certainty, and as a result the unemployed 
are robbed of jobs.
  It's not just those searching for work who suffer from Obamacare's 
heavy regulatory hand. Our senior citizens are at a loss as well. The 
Washington Post recently described challenges facing Medicare Advantage 
patients because of Obamacare.
  Obamacare has cut over half a trillion dollars from Medicare. Now, 
insurers are terminating physician networks.
  According to The Post:

       Insurers say they must shrink their physician networks 
     because they face billions of dollars in government-payment 
     cuts over the next decade--reductions that are being used 
     partly to fund insurance coverage for millions of people 
     under the federal Affordable Care Act.

  And it is not just our seniors, it is also the young.
  A recent study by the American Action Forum found that it would be 
cheaper for 86 percent of young adults to forgo coverage.
  The study concluded:


[[Page S570]]


       Even after mandate penalty is fully implemented, a majority 
     of young adult households will find that it is financially 
     advantageous for them to forgo health insurance, pay the 
     mandate penalty, and personally cover their own health care 
     expenses.

  Without the participation of young, healthy people, we are told the 
whole system will collapse. Then what?
  To add insult to injury, some Obamacare proponents want taxpayers to 
pick up the tab for insurance companies assuming the whole system 
might, in fact, collapse.
  Instead of calling this a ``bailout''--which is what it is--they use 
terms that could only be coined in Washington--terms like ``risk-
corridors,'' ``reinsurance funds,'' or ``risk-sharing protection.''
  The White House may even preemptively alter portions of this program 
for big insurance companies before the law falls apart. I believe 
American taxpayers have paid enough. That is why I cosponsored Senator 
Marco Rubio's Obamacare Bailout Prevention Act.
  The President and big insurance companies should not be permitted to 
force taxpayers to pay for the mess they created. Nebraskans have no 
interest in any more bailouts. And they certainly cannot afford to pay 
for these sky-rocketing premium spikes. Just ask my constituent from 
Lincoln, who wrote me recently to share her story.
  She said:

       I spent 2 hours on the phone with Healthcare.gov. The 
     Supervisor said she was going to try and reapply and 
     reinstate my plan beginning January 1, 2014. . .
       After an hour long process everyone but my 15 year old son 
     was approved for healthcare. So, then she tried to apply 
     again. . . An hour later the system `crashed' and she asked 
     me to call back later.
       So I called back yesterday. I had to go through an hour 
     long process again for signing up. . . at that point, all 
     THREE of my children were completely denied coverage.
       My husband and I are seriously scared. . . if something 
     catastrophic happens our family will be ruined without 
     healthcare for our children.

  These hardworking middle class families need relief. They are over-
taxed and over-burdened. People are scared. The law has not brought 
what the President promised. The cost of this flawed law is depriving 
Nebraskans the opportunities to build their own futures and pursue 
their dreams. Scrapping this law should be a priority for the Senate, 
the White House, and the country. It certainly is a top priority for 
me. We must repeal and replace this failed law now. Anything short of 
that is just irresponsible. Our constituents are counting on us--let's 
not disappoint them.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. NELSON. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. NELSON. Madam President, I am here to say hallelujah, that it 
looks as if we are finally coming to the point at which we can grant 
the homeowners and businesses of America some relief from the huge, 
gargantuan--tenfold sometimes--increases in flood insurance premiums. 
We are going to be able to pass this legislation today, with a vote 
cutting off debate yesterday of over 80 votes. I mean, there were times 
we were just hoping to get to 60 votes. I think that overwhelming 
number finally tells the story Senator Landrieu has told. She has told 
this story from the housetops, from the basements, from the riverbanks, 
and from the gulf shores: Enough. She has told this story along with 
Senator Menendez, who has shouted it from Cape May, NJ, all the way to 
the Port of New Jersey at the mouth of the Hudson. This Senator has 
shouted this from the State with the longest coastline of any State--
save for Alaska--a State whose highest point in the entire State is 
about 350 feet, along riverbanks and lakes, as well as the coastal 
waters. Therefore, naturally, it is something we have to be concerned 
with, the flood protection, and therefore protecting the financial 
assets of folks--their homes and their businesses. They simply cannot 
take a tenfold increase all at once.
  Now we are going to pass it. Unfortunately, there are still some 
folks who are trying to do us in. They are trying to do us in with 
subtle amendments that are going to try to seduce some Senators: Oh, 
doesn't this sound good? But they are going to cut the heart out of it, 
and we have to reject those amendments.
  At the end of the day, we will have the votes here in the Senate and 
we will pass it. The question is, What will happen down there at the 
other end of the Capitol? Let's just get a real big vote here, and that 
will send a message to our colleagues in the House of Representatives 
that this is ``no fooling'' time, that these rate increases are already 
in effect as of January 1, and we need to stop the rate increases in 
order to have time for FEMA to do the affordability study and therefore 
to see what is consumable among consumers, homeowners, business owners, 
and then have that be a consideration along with the actuarial 
soundness.
  I will conclude my remarks, before I thank Senator Landrieu, by 
saying that one of the toughest jobs I have ever had in public 
service--and I have been blessed with a lifetime of public service--was 
the elected insurance commissioner of Florida. I learned something 
about insurance during those years. This thing called actuarial 
soundness is a mathematical proposition whereby the expected risk and 
the expected loss--you want to charge enough, if you are an insurance 
company, to handle that. That is the theory of actuarial soundness.
  We know that part of the angst here about the Federal Flood Insurance 
Program is that it, in essence, has been subsidized by American 
taxpayers because it was never charging enough. But the question is: 
What is the real risk? The 2005 flood losses in the Flood Insurance 
Program as a result of Katrina--which was not the garden variety 
category 3 hurricane because the counterclockwise winds came on to 
Mississippi, not on to Louisiana.
  The back end of the hurricane on the counterclockwise rotation came 
across Lake Pontchartrain and filled the canals in New Orleans. The 
water pressure became so great as the water level rose, and what you 
had were some faulty dikes. When the dikes were breached, part of New 
Orleans flooded, which caused massive financial loss.
  The other unusual event, which Senator Menendez can tell you about, 
happened 1 year ago as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Again, that was a 
very unusual occurrence. We could talk about climate change, but that 
is an issue for another day. It is very unusual for a category 1 
hurricane to hit the northeast coast of the United States in the late 
months when it is cold. Because the water is cold, it is not hot enough 
to fuel a hurricane, but this one did.
  The northeastern coast is not exactly as accustomed to hurricanes as 
we are in Florida, and as a result we saw massive losses not so much 
from the wind but from floods.
  The damage was not just along the coast. Look at what happened on the 
inland areas all the way through New England. So those were two unusual 
climatic events which resulted in huge losses.
  As you are calculating the actuarial soundness in order to adjust a 
flood insurance premium, should those be considered in what ordinary 
people--over 2 million policies just in my State alone, 40 percent of 
all the flood insurance policies in the State of Florida. That is why 
we also need that recalibrated and calculated so we can find out what 
is affordable in the affordability study.
  Finally, I can't say enough about Senator Landrieu. This would not 
have happened without her. She has been dogged in her determination. 
She has been unyielding in her attempts to get this to where we are 
actually going to pass it in the Senate. I just want to express my 
personal appreciation for Senator Landrieu on behalf of the people of 
Florida, and, indeed, on behalf of the people of the United States.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maine.
  Ms. COLLINS. I ask unanimous consent that I be permitted to proceed 
for up to 10 minutes as if in morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  (The remarks of Ms. Collins and Mr. Nelson pertaining to the 
introduction of S. 1970 are printed in today's Record under 
``Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions.'')
  Mr. NELSON. Madam President, I yield the floor, and if no one else is

[[Page S571]]

seeking recognition, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the 
order for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                           Amendment No. 2706

  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the 
pending amendment be set aside so I may call up amendment No. 2706.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The clerk will report.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Rhode Island [Mr. Whitehouse] proposes an 
     amendment numbered 2706.

  The amendment is as follows:

   (Purpose: To exempt natural resource agencies from fees for flood 
                  insurance rate map change requests)

       At the appropriate place, insert the following:

     SEC. __. EXEMPTION FROM FEES FOR CERTAIN MAP CHANGE REQUESTS.

       Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a requester 
     shall be exempt from submitting a review or processing fee 
     for a request for a flood insurance rate map change based on 
     a habitat restoration project that is funded in whole or in 
     part with Federal or State funds, including dam removal, 
     culvert redesign or installation, or the installation of fish 
     passage.

  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Madam President, I wish to say a few words about this 
amendment which I hope we can pass. I think it is an amendment that 
will find strong bipartisan support.
  I am from New England and across New England--and I suspect in 
Wisconsin and across the country as well--communities are trying to 
restore old rivers to their healthy state. What we see in New England, 
particularly in Rhode Island with our history of the Industrial 
Revolution, is that our early industrial history was powered by 
hydropower. It was powered by damming rivers and then diverting some of 
the flow through a wheel that then drove the engines of industry--the 
mills, for instance, that were so important to Rhode Island's 
industrial history. That is not true just of Rhode Island; it is true 
across New England, and I suspect it is true in a lot of places across 
the country.
  As local communities are restoring these old rivers--they tend to be 
small rivers, particularly in New England, and these tend to be old 
dams--what we want to do is remove the old dams so the original flow is 
restored or we want to rebuild or maybe even redesign culverts so the 
flow of the river through the culvert permits the passage of fish. In 
some cases, we want to fully keep the dam but build a fish passage, so 
the fish that are working their way upstream to their traditional 
breeding grounds find a passage and aren't blocked by dams. Again, this 
is part of bringing these old rivers back to life. When we do that, in 
my State, it is usually towns--small towns often--and local community 
organizations that have to apply in order to make those changes.
  Part of the application process is a flood map revision to show what 
a change--removing the dam or changing the culvert or adding the fish 
ladder--will make on downstream conditions and so the flood map gets 
redone. The flood map gets filed with FEMA, and FEMA requires a 
processing fee of more than $5,000 in order to review and accept the 
flood map revision.
  What actually happens in practice is that the town or the local 
organization that is filing the flood map revision, because they are 
repairing or replacing the dam or providing fish passage for it, will 
apply to waive that fee. Virtually always--at least in Rhode Island, 
and I think around the country--FEMA is willing to waive that fee.

  But the problem is, these are small organizations and these are small 
towns, and it takes actually a considerable effort to put together the 
fee waiver application. So you may save $5,500 in the form of the FEMA 
fee, but you will spend maybe close to that much on your lawyers and 
engineers and on time and trouble in working together to get that 
application done.
  So since these fees usually get waived anyway, this amendment would 
just cut to the chase and say there is no fee. And because there is no 
fee, now you do not have to apply for a fee waiver. That will help the 
small towns and the small organizations that are often behind these 
small projects; and I mean dams that are only just 4 or 5 feet tall 
sometimes. The redesign of a culvert is not a major effort. It is very 
important to local communities, very important to local fishermen, very 
important to local canoers and outdoorsmen, but not a terrifically big 
deal.
  I hope we can agree to eliminate that bureaucratic requirement. 
Neither NOAA nor FEMA have expressed any objection whatsoever to this 
amendment.
  If I can close, I will read a statement by Chris Fox, who is 
executive director of the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association. The 
Wood River and Pawcatuck River run through western Rhode Island, and 
they are wonderful rivers. I have actually canoed and kayaked them both 
and enjoyed it immensely. He had to go through this fee waiver process 
for a set of projects on the Upper Pawcatuck River, and he writes:

       This Amendment will avert lengthy project delays and reduce 
     the cost of these environmentally beneficial projects 
     nationwide. . . . On behalf of the wildlife, water, and 
     people who reside in, and depend upon the health of the Wood-
     Pawcatuck Watershed, I thank you and all those who support 
     this Amendment.

  I hope all my colleagues will join together to earn Chris Fox's 
thanks for this, I hope, noncontroversial and beneficial amendment.
  I thank the Presiding Officer.
  I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. SHELBY. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. SHELBY. Madam President, I rise today in opposition to S. 1926. 
In July of 2012, after over 7 years of negotiations in the Congress, 
the Congress finally passed the Biggert-Waters Act, the first 
significant flood insurance reauthorization bill since the creation of 
the National Flood Insurance Program in 1968.
  One of the goals of the reform at that time was to ensure--yes, to 
ensure--that the 5.6 million flood insurance policyholders in this 
country could collect on their policies if they were ever to suffer a 
flood loss, something that cannot be guaranteed by the Flood Insurance 
Program that is currently $25 billion in debt.
  The program basically is bankrupt and only operating by the grace of 
the American taxpayer. Historically, the flood insurance premiums have 
not covered costs because the program was not designed to be 
actuarially sound. Essentially, it was flawed from the beginning when 
it was created in 1968.
  The National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 authorized subsidized rates 
to encourage participation in the Flood Insurance Program, especially 
for properties in high-risk locations. The Biggert-Waters legislation 
changed all this by requiring that the program be actuarially sound, 
that flood insurance rates reflect actual risk, and that the program 
eliminate its debt.
  The sponsors of the legislation before us now have said that the 
moment Biggert-Waters was signed into law by the President they began 
working to roll back the reforms. Before they had any clear knowledge 
of how the changes in that legislation would be implemented, how 
mapping would affect homeowners, how flood insurance rates would change 
or whom might be pulled into the program and whom might be pulled out.
  If my colleagues are hoping to dismantle the Flood Insurance Program, 
then they should support this legislation because that is exactly what 
it will do. However, if they are looking to address the unintended 
consequences of Biggert-Waters, then we should take a more measured 
approach like we do on most legislation. If there are affordability 
concerns that they are seeking to address, then I think we should find 
a way to address them.
  If they are attempting to address economic impacts that were not 
contemplated in the Biggert-Waters Act, then we should find alternative 
approaches that minimize those impacts.

[[Page S572]]

If they believe that the rate at which Biggert-Waters phases in risk-
based premiums needs to be reconsidered, then we should discuss 
alternative increases.
  Unfortunately, this legislation does not specifically address those 
issues. S. 1926, coupled with the provisions that the sponsors included 
in the recently passed omnibus appropriations act, will stop all 
changes in the Federal Flood Insurance Program. Those efforts will 
ensure that mapping revisions which we desperately need do not move 
forward, that premium increases are halted, and, even more disturbing, 
that homeowners never truly learn their real flood insurance risk.
  I believe people in America deserve to know the cost and risk of 
where they live. Taxpayers deserve to have those who choose to live in 
harm's way assume their own risk. The proponents of this legislation 
want to continue to burden, I believe, an already over-burdened and 
bankrupt Federal insurance program. They are not seeking to address a 
few discrete problems with the flood insurance reforms passed in 2012.
  Make no mistake, they want to stop it all. I concede, like any 
legislation, there were issues with the implementation of Biggert-
Waters that were not anticipated. But those can be addressed in other 
ways that do not require the ``stop everything'' approach that the 
proponents of this legislation are basically advocating.
  Congress is often criticized for being unable to fix anything. In 
2012, we took a very significant step toward fixing the National Flood 
Insurance Program after 7 years of work. Now we have a bill before us 
that will undo virtually every reform that was enacted less than 2 
years ago.
  I urge the proponents of the bill today to follow regular order and 
to take this bill through the committee process where it can be debated 
and amended and where people can be heard. Absent that, I urge my 
colleagues to join me in voting against this legislation in favor of a 
more measured approach which will preserve what is needed in the 
Biggert-Waters legislation and change only that which needs to be 
changed.
  I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. TESTER. I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum 
call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. TESTER. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that at the 
conclusion of my speech, Senator Reed of Rhode Island be the next 
Democratic speaker.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. TESTER. I come to the floor to speak against the Coburn 
amendment.
  I know the good Senator from Oklahoma hasn't brought up this 
amendment yet, but this is the time I have available to speak about it. 
If he doesn't bring it up, God bless him, but if he does bring it up, 
hopefully these comments will be able to impact some of the Members of 
this body.
  Before I talk about the Coburn amendment, I thank Senators Menendez, 
Landrieu, and Isakson for including legislation that is very important 
to Senator Johanns and me in this important flood insurance bill.
  Title II of the underlying bill is actually the National Association 
of Registered Agents and Brokers Reform Act or, as I refer to it, 
NARAB. NARAB is legislation Senator Johanns and I introduced last year. 
It creates a nonprofit association to provide one-stop licensing for 
insurance agents and brokers operating outside of their home States, 
while also fully preserving the authority of the State insurance 
regulators to supervise these markets.
  Currently, an insurance agent or broker seeking to operate in 
multiple States must meet different State-specific licensing 
requirements for each State and seek approval for each State's 
jurisdiction. This process can be time-consuming, costly, redundant, 
and sometimes contradictory--without providing any greater consumer 
protection. That is a big disincentive for agents and brokers who try 
to grow their business.
  This is not a new issue for the insurance industry. Congress 
recognized the need to reform the insurance licensing system 15 years 
ago in 1999 when it incorporated the National Association of Registered 
Agents and Brokers subtitle into the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. 
Unfortunately, during consideration of the act, Congress did not 
provide for the immediate establishment of NARAB. Instead, it included 
provisions to simply encourage State reciprocity for licensing. As a 
result, Gramm-Leach-Bliley wasn't able to achieve the level of 
reciprocity and uniformity Congress had hoped for, and these efforts 
became something of a dead end. That is why we are considering this 
important legislation today.
  Title II would provide insurance agents and brokers with the option 
of becoming a member of NARAB, provided that they meet the professional 
standards set by the association and undergo a criminal background 
check.
  NARAB will streamline the licensing process for agents and brokers, 
enabling them to be licensed once under a single high national 
licensing standard rather than follow different State standards. This 
will save time, and it will save money. The association will set 
rigorous professional and consumer protection standards, including the 
requirement that all association members undergo criminal background 
checks, and, for the first time, continuing education standards for 
nonresident producers. In addition to setting rigorous professional 
standards, the association will let agents and brokers renew their 
licenses all at once and fully preserve the ability of regulators to 
protect consumers, supervise and discipline agents and brokers.
  Currently, on average, insurance agents sell their products in eight 
States, with many of them serving even more. A one-stop licensing 
compliance mechanism will benefit all agents and brokers but 
particularly the smaller agents and brokers who must spend time and 
money dealing with different standards in different States. A one-stop 
shop for insurance licensing will help smaller players compete against 
their larger competitors. More opportunity is good for small 
businesses, and more competition is good for consumers. However, the 
amendment I referred to in my opening that may be offered by the good 
Senator from Oklahoma would render NARAB meaningless by giving States 
the ability to ignore NARAB's cross-State licensing abilities.
  The concept of NARAB was first developed when Congress passed Gramm-
Leach-Bliley in 1999, but, again, the measure wasn't able to achieve 
the measure of uniformity and reciprocity it hoped for. Title II 
represents decades of efforts and will finally achieve the goals laid 
out in Gramm-Leach-Bliley in a way that ensures that regulators can 
continue to protect consumers.
  I appreciate and understand the concerns of my friend from Oklahoma, 
and I share his interest in making sure we preserve States rights, but 
I also want to make clear that we tried to provide an opt-out for 
States when Gramm-Leach-Bliley was implemented 14 years ago. With all 
due respect, it simply did not work. That is why we are debating this 
bill today.
  I would like to take a minute and talk about how this legislation 
protects States rights. Every State would retain all authority to 
license its resident agents and brokers. The association would be 
required to notify States when agents and brokers apply for membership, 
letting States notify NARAB of any reason membership should not be 
granted for a producer.

  Additionally, because the association would be in communication with 
all State insurance regulators, this notification measure will prevent 
bad actors with violations in one State from simply moving to another 
State because their record would now follow them.
  States will also have significant control over NARAB. The nonprofit 
association would be governed by a board of directors dominated by 
State insurance regulators and chaired by a State insurance regulator.
  The amendment of the Senator from Oklahoma also implies this 
legislation somehow imposes unfunded mandates on States or compels 
States to take some action, and this simply isn't the case.
  The legislation also ensures States remain responsible for the 
oversight

[[Page S573]]

and day-to-day regulation of the insurance marketplace. States will 
maintain exclusive control over the regulation and marketplace 
activities, consumer protection requirements, unfair trade practices, 
and other important areas.
  Under this bill, we preserve the longstanding authority of States to 
supervise insurance producers. Any agent or broker who obtains the 
authority to operate in a jurisdiction through NARAB is still subject 
to the full regulatory authority of that State and must comply with all 
marketplace requirements.
  Under our proposal we ensure States will continue to receive 
insurance licensing fees, which will be collected by NARAB and remitted 
to the States.
  This legislation is strongly supported by the National Association of 
State Insurance Commissioners, the National Association of Insurance 
and Financial Advisers, the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, 
and the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America. Its 
purpose is thwarted if the amendment of the good Senator from Oklahoma 
is adopted.
  If NARAB cannot offer producers the ability to fulfill their 
licensing obligations in all jurisdictions, then NARAB offers very 
little value for those agents and brokers who would otherwise 
participate and would create uncertainty about whether individual 
States might opt out in the future.
  So I urge my colleagues, if the good Senator from Oklahoma decides to 
bring up his amendment, to oppose that amendment.
  With that, Madam President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.


                           Amendment No. 2697

  Mr. COBURN. Madam President, I am waiting on Senator Menendez to come 
to the floor on a point of order, but I do ask unanimous consent that 
we temporarily set aside the pending amendment so I may call up my 
amendment No. 2697.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The clerk will report the amendment.
  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Oklahoma [Mr. COBURN] for himself and Mr. 
     McCain, proposes an amendment numbered 2697.

  Mr. COBURN. I ask unanimous consent that the amendment be considered 
as read.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The amendment is as follows:

 (Purpose: To allow States to opt-out of participation in the National 
             Association of Registered Agents and Brokers)

       At the end of section 330 of subtitle C of title III of the 
     Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, as added by section 202(a), insert 
     the following:
       ``(c) State Opt-out-rights.--
       ``(1) In general.--Any State, as described in section 
     333(9)(A), may elect not to participate in the Association, 
     and insurance producers doing business in that State shall be 
     subject to all otherwise applicable insurance-related laws, 
     rules, and regulations of that State.
       ``(2) Procedure.--A State, as described in section 
     333(9)(A), that elects not to participate in the Association 
     under paragraph (1) shall do so by enacting legislation 
     indicating such election.
       ``(3) Effective date of opt-out.--
       ``(A) In general.--Except as provided in subparagraph (B), 
     the effective date of an election by a State, as described in 
     section 333(9)(A), not to participate in the Association 
     under paragraph (1) is 2 years after the date on which the 
     State enacts legislation under paragraph (2).
       ``(B) Immediately effective opt-out.--An election by a 
     State, as described in section 333(9)(A), not to participate 
     in the Association under paragraph (1) shall take effect upon 
     the enactment of legislation under paragraph (2) if such 
     legislation is enacted not later than 180 days after the date 
     of enactment of this Act.
       ``(4) Exclusion of insurance producers.--No insurance 
     producer, the home State, as described in section 333(9)(A), 
     of which has made an election not to participate in the 
     Association under paragraph (1), may become a member of the 
     Association.
       ``(5) Notification of opt-out.--A State, as described in 
     section 333(9)(A), that elects not to participate in the 
     Association under paragraph (1) shall notify the Board and 
     the primary insurance regulatory authority of each State of 
     such election.
       ``(6) Change in election.--
       ``(A) Opt-in.--A State, as described in section 333(9)(A), 
     that has elected not to participate in the Association under 
     paragraph (1) may elect to participate in the Association by 
     enacting legislation indicating such election.
       ``(B) Effective date of opt-in.--An election by a State, as 
     described in section 333(9)(A), to participate in the 
     Association under subparagraph (A) shall take effect upon the 
     enactment of the legislation indicating such election.
       ``(C) Notification of opt-in.--A State, as described in 
     section 333(9)(A), that has elected to participate in the 
     Association under subparagraph (A) shall notify the Board and 
     the primary insurance regulatory authority of each State of 
     such election.
       In section 334 of subtitle C of title III of the Gramm-
     Leach-Bliley Act, as added by section 202(a), strike 
     paragraph (9) and insert the following:
       ``(9) State.--The term `State'--
       ``(A) means any State, the District of Columbia, any 
     territory of the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, American 
     Samoa, the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, the Virgin 
     Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands; and
       ``(B) does not include any State (as described in 
     subparagraph (A)) that has made an election not to 
     participate in the Association under section 330(c)(1).

  Mr. COBURN. I see Senator Menendez is now on the floor, and what I 
wish to do is talk a little about this bill.
  This bill is going to add $900 million in additional budget authority 
and outlays over the next 5 years with no offsets, period. The sponsors 
claim the bill is offset over 10 years but relies on a budget gimmick 
that assumes Congress would not raise the NFIP borrowing authority once 
it hits the cap. That has never happened. And in the absence of 
sufficient borrowing authority, the program would delay payments of 
insurance claims until additional resources became available. So in 
reality this bill will add another $2.1 billion in debt to the NFIP 
while making no substantive changes to address affordability issues.
  Even the administration states that delaying implementation of these 
reforms would further erode the financial position of the NFIP, which 
is already $24 billion in debt. This delay would also reduce FEMA's 
ability to pay future claims made by all policyholders. NFIP is 
unaffordable to the American people as the program is currently already 
more than $24 billion in debt.
  The pending measure, S. 1926, a bill to delay the implementation of 
certain provisions of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 
2012, and to reform the National Association of Registered Agents and 
Brokers, and for other purposes, would violate the Senate pay-go rule 
and increase the deficit. Therefore, I raise a point of order on this 
measure, pursuant to sections 201(a) of S. Con. Res. 21, the concurrent 
resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2008.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Jersey.
  Mr. MENENDEZ. Madam President, pursuant to section 904 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974 and the waiver provisions of 
applicable budget resolutions, I move to waive all applicable sections 
of that Act and applicable budget resolutions for purposes of the 
pending bill, and I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The yeas and nays are ordered.
  The motion to waive is debatable.
  The Senator from Oklahoma.
  Mr. COBURN. Madam President, this country is in serious trouble with 
its debt, its unfunded liabilities, and its continual habit by its 
elected representatives to not live within its means.
  Waiving the Budget Act so that we can delay a reform on something 
that needs to be reformed does not make sense. I have no doubt I won't 
win this budget point of order, but the American people need to be 
paying attention. Here we go again, not doing the hard, tough work of 
making choices about priorities.
  We passed a bill, the Biggert-Waters bill, it was signed into law, 
and now, because it is starting to come into effect, we are going to 
delay it for 4 years. It is going to cost billions. Then we are not 
going to solve the problem. And don't forget, this is not about keeping 
Biggert-Waters intact, it is about making it go away. That is what it 
is about.
  I am adamantly opposed to the waiver of the Budget Act and I will 
await the call of the Chair on the vote.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Jersey.

[[Page S574]]

  Mr. MENENDEZ. Madam President, briefly, I appreciate the longstanding 
views of my colleague from Oklahoma on a variety of fiscal issues, but 
on this one I must say I have a disagreement with him. This isn't about 
doing away with Biggert-Waters, because the reality is that of the 1 
percent of properties that equal 33 percent of all claims, there is 
nothing set aside for that 1 percent that creates 33 percent of all the 
claims. It remains as it existed in Biggert-Waters.
  As a matter of fact, overwhelmingly, we keep most of the Biggert-
Waters reforms in the legislation. The one thing we are doing is 
creating a pause for those property owners who have obeyed the rules, 
followed their responsibilities, built in new standards and now find 
themselves, notwithstanding having done all those things, in the midst 
of a lot of hurt and rate shock.
  In fact, some of us foresaw this, evidenced by the fact that I raised 
these issues as a member of the Senate banking committee, where this 
bill was heard, and when I couldn't achieve any affordability elements, 
I got an affordability study included, which study should be completed 
before we actually put into force skyrocketing premiums that are going 
to what, create greater stability for the fund? No.
  What is insurance about? Insurance is about spreading risk over a 
wider pool. So what happens when people simply can't meet those 
skyrocketing premiums, as evidenced by the many stories our colleagues 
on both sides of the aisle have come to talk about on the floor? What 
happens when they, in essence, have to say: I can't have insurance or I 
am going to turn my house over to the mortgage company because I can't 
sustain that policy or I will have to sell the property at a fire sale? 
What happens then? The pool grows smaller. What are the consequences of 
the risk pool growing smaller? Prices rise. And when prices rise even 
more for everybody else, what happens again? The risk pool grows 
smaller. And when the risk pool grows smaller, the prices rise again.
  So this isn't about undoing Biggert-Waters. On the contrary, this is 
about getting it right. This is about fulfilling the element of the law 
that said there must be an affordability study so we can determine what 
type of affordability mechanism would exist in the law so that 
ultimately we make sure we have a solvent program and, at the same 
time, be able to keep the single most significant asset any family has 
in this country, which is their home.
  That is what we are trying do here, and that is why I urge my 
colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support the waiver of the 
budget point of order.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Louisiana.
  Ms. LANDRIEU. Madam President, I understand Senator Reed has been 
waiting to speak about his amendment and the unanimous consent 
agreement allows for that. I would like 30 seconds to respond to the 
Coburn amendment. I see the Senator from Tennessee, and I am not sure 
what brings him to the floor, but if I can have 30 seconds to respond 
to the Coburn amendment.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Ms. LANDRIEU. I want to underscore what the Senator from New Jersey 
just said. If our efforts were to repeal the Biggert-Waters bill, we 
would have drafted one to do so. This is not repealing Biggert-Waters. 
This is an honest, good-faith attempt to make the flood insurance 
program work. So we are insisting the affordability study be done 
first, we are insisting the maps be accurate, and we are insisting that 
FEMA recognize levees that taxpayers have built with their own money. 
Is that too much to ask? I mean, think about that: An affordability 
study, to recognize levees that are built, and to make sure people can 
afford these rates.
  I know my 30 seconds is up. I urge my colleagues to vote against the 
Coburn point of order and to help us move this important bill to the 
House of Representatives with a strong vote.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.


                           Amendment No. 2703

  Mr. REED. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the pending 
amendment be set aside and that I be permitted to call up my amendment 
No. 2703.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The clerk will report the amendment.
  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Rhode Island [Mr. Reed] proposes an 
     amendment numbered 2703.

  Mr. REED. I ask unanimous consent that the reading of the amendment 
be waived.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The amendment is as follows:

    (Purpose: To require the Administrator of the Federal Emergency 
  Management Agency to conduct a study to assess voluntary community-
                     based flood insurance options)

       At the end, add the following:

     SEC. __. STUDY OF VOLUNTARY COMMUNITY-BASED FLOOD INSURANCE 
                   OPTIONS.

       (a) Study.--
       (1) Study required.--The Administrator shall conduct a 
     study to assess options, methods, and strategies for making 
     available voluntary community-based flood insurance policies 
     through the National Flood Insurance Program.
       (2) Considerations.--The study conducted under paragraph 
     (1) shall--
       (A) take into consideration and analyze how voluntary 
     community-based flood insurance policies--
       (i) would affect communities having varying economic bases, 
     geographic locations, flood hazard characteristics or 
     classifications, and flood management approaches; and
       (ii) could satisfy the applicable requirements under 
     section 102 of the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 (42 
     U.S.C. 4012a); and
       (B) evaluate the advisability of making available voluntary 
     community-based flood insurance policies to communities, 
     subdivisions of communities, and areas of residual risk.
       (3) Consultation.--In conducting the study required under 
     paragraph (1), the Administrator may consult with the 
     Comptroller General of the United States, as the 
     Administrator determines is appropriate.
       (b) Report by the Administrator.--
       (1) Report required.--Not later than 18 months after the 
     date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall submit 
     to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs of 
     the Senate and the Committee on Financial Services of the 
     House of Representatives a report that contains the results 
     and conclusions of the study conducted under subsection (a).
       (2) Contents.--The report submitted under paragraph (1) 
     shall include recommendations for--
       (A) the best manner to incorporate voluntary community-
     based flood insurance policies into the National Flood 
     Insurance Program; and
       (B) a strategy to implement voluntary community-based flood 
     insurance policies that would encourage communities to 
     undertake flood mitigation activities, including the 
     construction, reconstruction, or improvement of levees, dams, 
     or other flood control structures.
       (c) Report by Comptroller General.--Not later than 6 months 
     after the date on which the Administrator submits the report 
     required under subsection (b), the Comptroller General of the 
     United States shall--
       (1) review the report submitted by the Administrator; and
       (2) submit to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban 
     Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Financial Services 
     of the House of Representatives a report that contains--
       (A) an analysis of the report submitted by the 
     Administrator;
       (B) any comments or recommendations of the Comptroller 
     General relating to the report submitted by the 
     Administrator; and
       (C) any other recommendations of the Comptroller General 
     relating to community-based flood insurance policies.

  Mr. REED. Madam President, my amendment would require the Federal 
Emergency Management Agency--FEMA--to study and report on the 
advisability of establishing voluntary community-based flood insurance 
policies under the National Flood Insurance Program--NFIP. The 
Government Accountability Office would be required to review and 
comment on FEMA's study.
  The study will help answer important questions about how such 
voluntary community-based policies could be implemented within the 
National Flood Insurance Program. It does not commit FEMA, the 
Congress, or local communities to take any action. It simply calls for 
fact-finding and analysis that could provide the basis for improvements 
to the flood insurance program.
  The idea of community-based flood insurance is to assess the risk for 
all properties within a community and collect premiums from the 
community rather than from individual property owners. By purchasing 
insurance at the community level, willing local governments--and I 
emphasize willing and

[[Page S575]]

voluntary--may be able to spread the cost of premiums equitably among 
property owners. In addition, they may be able to increase 
participation in the flood insurance program, including among property 
owners who are within the 100-year flood plain but who are not subject 
to the mandatory purchase requirement because they do not carry a 
federally backed mortgage. Expanding participation would ensure that 
all properties in the flood plain have coverage from risk.
  Beyond increasing coverage and participation, community-based 
insurance may also offer new opportunities and incentives for 
communities to deal with affordability, including by undertaking 
mitigation efforts that will reduce risk and insurance costs. Indeed, 
the amendment specifically requires FEMA to develop a strategy that 
incorporates mitigation into its recommendations for community-based 
policies.
  For communities in Rhode Island and along the east coast that are 
dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and the reality of sea 
level rise and climate change, this could offer another tool to 
prepare.
  There are important questions to be answered about the feasibility of 
such an option and how it might be offered. That is what this amendment 
seeks to do. A study of this option has been included in separate 
amendments and bills sponsored by proponents and opponents of the 
underlying bill, and it has been approved by the House twice as a 
freestanding bill.
  Indeed, it has been part of bills or amendments sponsored or 
cosponsored by Chairman Johnson, Senator Crapo, Senator Shelby, and 
Senator Landrieu.
  I thank the managers and authors of the underlying bill--Senators 
Menendez, Landrieu, and Isakson--for their work. They have done an 
extraordinary job in working to ensure my amendment could be 
considered. I believe this amendment will add to the goals of the 
underlying bill of which I am a cosponsor. Given the bipartisan support 
for this concept, I hope it could be adopted by a voice vote.
  Before I yield the floor, one point. We have another emergency that 
is facing us, not only floods and rising waters, but unemployment 
insurance. I ask if we could continue the bipartisan dialog we have 
had. I salute my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who have 
been principled in their pursuit of this objective, and we can move on 
that issue also.
  Madam President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Pennsylvania.
  Mr. TOOMEY. Madam President, I rise to address the amendment I have. 
I will formally ask to call it up in a few moments, but I wish to say a 
few words about it. I would like to start with a little bit of 
background and a reminder of how we got here and the circumstances that 
brought us to this point.
  It all started, of course, with a completely unsustainable National 
Flood Insurance Program. I don't think there is any dispute that this 
program is massively in debt, it has been completely under water, it 
was insolvent, and there was no prospect for this to right itself 
because of the massive subsidies for homeowners of all stripes.
  By the way, in addition to being fiscally insolvent and therefore a 
huge drain for taxpayers, it has a lot of very bad incentives. When you 
subsidize homes built in dangerous places, you subsidize and encourage 
homes to be rebuilt there, homes to be bought in places that are 
dangerous and costly. So there are problems inherent. The CBO was very 
clear about this. This program was not going to be able to honor its 
commitments. That is what happens when a program like this is insolvent 
and is unreformed: People who think they have insurance for their home 
end up discovering one day that they don't because of its insolvency.
  So along came the Biggert-Waters approach to reform the National 
Flood Insurance Program and to put it in a position where it would 
actually be solvent and would actually be able to honor the policies 
people are paying for.
  It was September of 2011 that the Senate banking committee took up 
the reforms, and they passed it with a voice vote. In other words, 
there was no dissent. There was no objection to the Biggert-Waters 
reforms. That was, of course, after many hearings. This had been 
discussed at length for many years before we got to that point. But we 
did. We passed it in the banking committee.
  In June of 2012--so less than 2 years ago--Biggert-Waters, the flood 
insurance reform program--was wrapped into another bill. It was wrapped 
into the MAP-21 Transportation bill and it passed--and it passed with 
overwhelming support. As a matter of fact, as it happens, every single 
Democratic Senator who was in the Chamber voted in favor of the 
Biggert-Waters reforms I think in part because they understood this 
program needed to be reformed, and I think we all believe this program 
needs to be in a fiscally sustainable place.
  So the final passage of that bill less than 2 years ago required the 
reforms of Biggert-Waters, which includes as central to those reforms 
that over time everybody who participates in the National Flood 
Insurance Program will eventually be paying actuarially sound rates--
rates that actually reflect the risk of their home, so taxpayers 
wouldn't be on the hook and they wouldn't be subject to the worry about 
whether this program is going to go away altogether.
  That is where we were when, lo and behold, we start to discover that 
for some people premium increases are going to be very dramatic. I have 
heard a lot from Pennsylvanians. This is a problem with the Biggert-
Waters reform.
  One of the problems I suspect a lot of folks did not anticipate was 
that the premium spikes would be quite substantial and happen over a 
pretty short period of time. There is a phase-in under the Biggert-
Waters reforms, but it is quick, and it is very problematic for that 
relatively small handful of people who would be adversely affected, 
because it turns out that the remapping determines that they are in a 
higher risk profile than had previously been understood or, if they had 
built their home prior to the initial mappings, they wouldn't be 
subject to the premium increase. But upon sale of their homes, the 
premium increase would go into effect, and it would go into effect 
immediately. And that of course can have a devastating impact on the 
value of a person's home.
  I want to be very clear. There is no question in my mind that if we 
don't do anything, if we simply leave Biggert-Waters alone, that has an 
unacceptable impact on people who are adversely affected in the form of 
premium increases that are way too big way too quickly. And that is not 
the right outcome. We shouldn't settle for that.
  I know cases in Pennsylvania where people are facing thousands of 
dollars in increase. In some cases it is immediate. In a case where 
they are going to be selling their home, the new buyer would face that 
immediately. In other cases, it is phased in quickly.
  The Menendez approach--the underlying bill we are debating today--
deals with this, but it deals with this in the wrong way. It deals with 
this by completely suspending all the reforms. It completely dispenses 
with the idea that we should move toward an actuarially sound program. 
It says for 4 years there will be no change in premiums.
  It is hard not to see this as a measure designed to kill the reform. 
I understand it is painful to have any premium increase, but to say 
that the response should be to abandon any effort to move to a fiscally 
sound, actuarially based program can't be right. To do that is to 
completely throw out the reforms that took so many years to get.
  And, by the way, it doesn't provide any certainty for the homeowners 
it is meant to protect--where for 4 years nothing happens, and after 
the fourth year nobody knows what happens. I know it is the intent of 
some to continue indefinitely without making any changes, but that is 
not a solution. This is an insolvent program.
  What that means is we will get to the day--relatively soon, according 
to CBO--when the National Flood Insurance Program will simply be unable 
to honor the commitments it has made. It will not have the resources. 
It will not have the borrowing authority. It will run out of money. And 
people who then get their homes flooded will find it of little comfort 
that their premium was a little lower when it turns out there is no 
benefit to be paid, there are no resources for them to rebuild.

[[Page S576]]

  So this doesn't work. And it is not just me who observes this problem 
with the underlying Menendez bill. As a matter of fact, the President 
of the United States has weighed in on this. I have a quote here from a 
Statement of Administrative Policy they put out 2 days ago directly 
referring to this bill, identifying it by number. This is the bill they 
are talking about, the Menendez bill. One of the things they say is:

       Delaying implementation of these reforms would further 
     erode the financial position of the NFIP, which is already 
     $24 billion in debt. This delay would also reduce FEMA's 
     ability to pay future claims made by all policyholders.

  This is the President of the United States. His administration has 
looked at the Menendez bill, and this is their conclusion: This doesn't 
work. This doesn't work for the policyholders. It doesn't work for 
taxpayers. It doesn't work for anybody.
  There is another problem I would point out with the Menendez bill: It 
wouldn't work if it were to become law for these reasons, but it is not 
going to become law. The administration has made it clear they don't 
support it. The Speaker of the House has made it abundantly clear he 
will not put a bill on the House floor that guts the reforms of 
Biggert-Waters. The House chairman of the banking committee, who has 
jurisdiction over this, has made it abundantly clear: He is not going 
to move a bill that does away with these fiscal reforms.
  If your goal is to do something to help homeowners who are facing 
premium increases, a vote for the Menendez bill does nothing, because 
that bill is going nowhere. The administration doesn't support it. They 
have said so. The House is not even going to take it up. So if your 
goal is to do something for constituents who are facing a big premium 
increase--and, frankly, that is a big part of my goal--the Menendez 
bill doesn't cut it. That is going nowhere.
  What the administration said would work and what House leadership is 
willing to work with us on would be to phase in these premium increases 
more gradually, because everybody acknowledges the premium increases 
are occurring too quickly, and that needs to change.
  This is another quote from that same Statement of Administration 
Policy on the same bill. What they said was:

       The administration strongly supports a phased transition to 
     actuarially sound flood insurance rates.

  They didn't refer to my amendment, but this is exactly what my 
amendment does. It phases this in gradually so as to minimize the pain, 
allow people an opportunity to adjust, allow people the time to maybe 
mitigate the risk and still maintain the integrity--the fiscal 
integrity--of the program so it actually can pay the claims that surely 
will be submitted.
  Let me run through quickly exactly what the amendment does and 
doesn't do, because there has been some confusion about this.
  Our amendment actually retains very significant portions of the 
underlying Menendez bill because parts of it made a lot of sense. 
Section 1 is the title. Section 2, definitions. Unchanged. Section 3 is 
where we phased the premium increases in gradually rather than 
suspending them altogether. That is the big difference. Section 4 of 
the Menendez bill is an affordability study and report, requires FEMA 
to complete this study--as Biggert-Waters does--within 2 years of the 
enactment of the bill. We leave that intact. I think that is a good 
idea. We need that. My amendment would not affect that whatsoever.
  The Mendendez bill also provides some additional funding for the 
affordability study. It lifts the cap that was set before. My amendment 
wouldn't change that. I think we need to lift that cap.
  Section 6. This is a measure that provides funds to reimburse 
homeowners when they challenge the redraw. So when a new map comes out 
and someone's house is deemed to be in a more risky place and therefore 
the premium is higher, a homeowner can challenge that. If the homeowner 
wins, under the Menendez language--which I support and stays in this 
bill under my amendment--the homeowner would be reimbursed the cost of 
that challenge.
  Senator King from Maine had a very good suggestion, which is: If a 
community chooses to challenge the mapping because they think there was 
a mistake made, they think it was inaccurate and it adversely affects 
them, that community too would be reimbursed for its costs if it turns 
out to be successful in its challenge. I agree with that. We have 
incorporated that into our amendment.
  Section 7 addresses the flood protection system. This is a very 
important part of what the Menendez bill does and I fully support it, 
and that is this: Under current law, one of the problems is in order 
for a community or a homeowner to fully benefit from risk mitigation 
that they may have done--a levee that may have been built or a dam or 
some other risk mitigation. In order to fully benefit from that, the 
Federal Government has to have paid for some portion of it. That is 
ridiculous. What difference does it make who paid for it? If it has 
been built and it is providing protection, that is all that should 
matter. This language would achieve that, the Menendez bill achieves 
that, and my amendment incorporates that. We keep that intact as well.
  Section 8 addresses floodproofed residential basements, addresses 
that. Our amendment doesn't change that.
  Section 9 creates a designation of a flood insurance advocate. Again, 
my amendment makes no change to that.
  Section 10. Senator Blunt had an amendment that would change the 
remodeling trigger for loss subsidies from 30 percent to 50 percent of 
a home's value. We incorporate Senator Blunt's amendment into our own, 
so that is there.
  Senator Hagan had an amendment to exempt escrow requirements for 
flood insurance payments. We fully incorporate that into my amendment 
as well.
  Senator Rubio had an amendment also that was accepted by the 
managers. It is in ours.
  What it comes down to, the difference between my amendment and the 
Menendez approach is one keeps us on a path of reform, keeps us on a 
path to an actuarially sound, fiscally responsible flood insurance 
program, whereby the flood insurance program is actually able to pay 
its claims, and the Menendez bill dispenses with it. It dispenses with 
the most important, most fundamental reform. The other part that we do 
is we soften the blow. If your concern is with these homeowners who are 
facing these huge premiums, my amendment is the only way we are 
actually going to achieve that help for those folks because this is the 
only legislative approach that has a chance of actually legislatively 
becoming law.

  By the way, in addition to its problems with the other body and the 
administration, the Menendez bill is subject to a budget point of order 
because it increases our deficit and forces more government borrowing. 
It is subject to a point of order. I don't know that it can sustain 
that. I don't know it can defeat a budget point of order and that is an 
important issue.
  Because our approach is fiscally sound, we are not subject to a 
budget point of order. What we do is we say the longer delay in the 
phase-in of the premium increases costs the flood insurance program 
some money until you get to the point where people have reached the 
level where they are paying actuarially sound rates, but we fully 
offset that with a very modest surcharge on all flood insurance 
policies in the country. It is about $40 per year in the first year, 
the most expensive year, unless your income is over one-half million 
dollars a year, in which case it is about $80, and that is it. It goes 
down after that because over time, when the higher premiums phase in, 
the loss to the program is diminished and therefore the surcharge goes 
down with it.
  But let's be very clear. The maximum that anybody would be paying is 
about $40 a year unless their income is over one-half million dollars a 
year, in which case it would be $80 a year.
  I will wrap up. I think we cannot continue to ignore all of the 
fundamental mandatory spending problems we have. When we actually go 
through a long and painful and deliberative systematic process to 
reform a program, for us to then walk away within 2 years and say never 
mind, we are not going to have any reform, is just so disappointing and 
irresponsible. We have bigger challenges facing us. If we cannot deal 
with this, I don't know what we are going to do.

[[Page S577]]

  I fully acknowledge we have to soften the blow for people who are 
going to face much higher premiums and my amendment does that. The way 
we do that is by ensuring nobody's premium could go up by more than 25 
percent. In the case of people who would face a big increase, under my 
approach it will take many years of gradual phasing in before they 
would actually be forced to pay that higher actuarially sound rate. If 
they think the rate is unfairly high, they can challenge it or they can 
leave the program and buy private insurance. They can do that. But to 
suggest we are going to just do nothing after having put the reforms in 
place I think would be a big mistake.
  There are a lot of groups that are supporting my amendment. I have a 
list I am going to run through quickly:
  Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation, The 
Nature Conservancy, Taxpayers for Common Sense, National Association of 
Mutual Insurance Companies, Reinsurance Association of America, 
American Rivers, National Fire Protection Association, National Leased 
Housing Association, the R Street Institute, American Consumer 
Institute, Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Tax Reform, the 
Coalition to Reduce Spending, the Cost of Government Center, Council 
for Citizens Against Government Waste, Freedom Works, National 
Taxpayers Union, Taxpayers for Common Sense, Taxpayers Protection 
Alliance.
  You can see there is a combination of fiscal watchdogs, folks who are 
very concerned about fiscal prudence, as well as people who are 
concerned about environmental integrity. There are other groups coming 
on continuously.
  As I mentioned, every Democrat who voted on the Biggert-Waters reform 
voted in favor of it. What my amendment does is it preserves the 
integrity of the reform while softening the blow for the people who 
will be affected by it.
  I think this is a very important, although modest, step in doing 
these two things.


                    Amendment No. 2707, as Modified

  I ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment so I may 
call up my amendment, No. 2707, with the modification at the desk.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Coons). Without objection, it is so 
ordered. The clerk will report.
  The legislative clerk read as follows.

       The Senator from Pennsylvania [Mr. Toomey] proposes an 
     amendment, No. 2707, as modified.

  The amendment is as follows:

    (Purpose: To adjust phase-ins of flood insurance rate increases)

       Strike sections 103 through 109 and insert the following:

     SEC. 103. PHASE-IN OF FLOOD INSURANCE RATE INCREASES.

       (a) Map Changes.--Section 1308(h) of the National Flood 
     Insurance Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 4015(h)) is amended--
       (1) in the second sentence, by striking ``shall be phased 
     in over a 5-year period'' and all that follows and inserting 
     the following: ``shall be implemented by increasing the risk 
     premium rate by 25 percent each year following such effective 
     date until the risk premium rate accurately reflects the 
     current risk of flood to such property.''; and
       (2) in the third sentence, by striking ``shall be phased in 
     over a 5-year period'' and all that follows and inserting the 
     following: ``shall be phased in by increasing the risk 
     premium rate by 25 percent each year following the effective 
     date of such issuance, revision, updating, or change.''.
       (b) Home Sale Trigger.--
       (1) Phase-in.--Section 1308(e) of the National Flood 
     Insurance Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 4015(e)) is amended--
       (A) in paragraph (1), by striking ``and'' at the end;
       (B) in paragraph (2), by striking the period at the end and 
     inserting ``; and''; and
       (C) by adding at the end the following:
       ``(3) described in section 1307(g)(2) that are principal 
     residences shall be increased by 25 percent each year, 
     beginning in the year after the first sale of such a property 
     that occurs after the date of enactment of the Biggert-Waters 
     Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 and continuing in each 
     successive year regardless of any further sale or resale of 
     the property, until the risk premium rate charged for the 
     property accurately reflects the current risk of flood to the 
     property.''.
       (2) Application of phase-in to principal residences 
     purchased between july 7, 2012 and april 1, 2013.--
       (A) Definition.--In this paragraph, the term ``eligible 
     policy'' means a flood insurance policy--
       (i) that covers a principal residence that was purchased 
     during the period beginning on July 7, 2012 and ending on 
     April 1, 2013; and
       (ii) for which the risk premium rate charged was increased, 
     after the purchase described in clause (i), to the full risk 
     premium rate estimated under subsection (a)(1) of section 
     1307 of the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 
     4014) as required under subsection (g)(2) of such section (as 
     in effect on the day before the date of enactment of this 
     Act).
       (B) Application of phase-in to risk premium rate upon 
     policy renewal.--The risk premium rate charged for an 
     eligible policy shall--
       (i) on the date on which the policy is first renewed after 
     the date of enactment of this Act, be adjusted to be the rate 
     that would have been charged as of that date if the phase-in 
     provision under paragraph (3) of section 1308(e) of the 
     National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 4015(e)), as 
     added by paragraph (1) of this subsection, had been in effect 
     when the property covered by the eligible policy was 
     purchased; and
       (ii) be increased by 25 percent each year thereafter, in 
     accordance with paragraph (3) of section 1308(e) of the 
     National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 4015(e)), as 
     added by paragraph (1) of this subsection.
       (c) Promulgation of Regulations and Rate Tables.--
       (1) In general.--The Administrator shall promulgate such 
     regulations and make available such rate tables as necessary 
     to implement subsections (a) and (b) and the amendments made 
     by those subsections, as though those subsections were 
     enacted as part of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform 
     Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-141; 126 Stat. 916).
       (2) Public participation.--To ensure community, 
     stakeholder, and expert participation in the promulgation of 
     regulations and the establishment of rate tables under this 
     subsection, the Administrator shall--
       (A) publish the regulations and rate tables in the Federal 
     Register; and
       (B) before promulgating final regulations and making 
     available final rate tables, provide a period for public 
     comment on the regulations and rate tables published under 
     subparagraph (A) that is not shorter than 45 days.
       (3) Timing of premium changes.--To allow for appropriate 
     implementation of subsections (a) and (b) and the amendments 
     made by those subsections, the Administrator may not 
     implement any premium changes with respect to policy holders, 
     including charges or rebates, that are necessary to implement 
     subsections (a) and (b) and the amendments made by those 
     subsections until the date that is 6 months after the date on 
     which the Administrator promulgates final regulations and 
     makes available final rate tables under this subsection.
       (d) Flood Insurance Fee.--
       (1) In general.--Section 1308 of the National Flood 
     Insurance Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 4015) is amended by adding 
     at the end the following:
       ``(j) Fee to Offset Phase-in of Certain Premium Rate 
     Increases.--
       ``(1) In general.--The Administrator shall charge an annual 
     fee to each holder of a flood insurance policy issued under 
     this Act to offset the costs of the Homeowner Flood Insurance 
     Affordability Act of 2014 and the amendments made by that 
     Act.
       ``(2) Amount.--In establishing an amount of the fee to be 
     charged under paragraph (1), the Administrator shall charge a 
     policyholder with an annual household income that is not less 
     than $500,000 twice the amount that the Administrator charges 
     a policyholder with an annual household income that is less 
     than $500,000.''.
       (2) Applicability.--The Administrator shall charge the fee 
     required under section 1308(j) of the National Flood 
     Insurance Act of 1968, as added by paragraph (1), with 
     respect to any flood insurance policy that is issued or 
     renewed on or after the date of enactment of this Act.
       (e) Disclosure.--
       (1) Change in rates under biggert-waters.--Not later than 
     the date that is 6 months before the date on which any change 
     in risk premium rates for flood insurance coverage under the 
     National Flood Insurance Program resulting from the amendment 
     made by section 100207 of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance 
     Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-141; 126 Stat. 919) is 
     implemented, the Administrator shall make publicly available 
     the rate tables and underwriting guidelines that provide the 
     basis for the change.
       (2) Change in rates under this act.--Not later than the 
     date that is 6 months before the date on which any change in 
     risk premium rates for flood insurance coverage under the 
     National Flood Insurance Program resulting from this Act or 
     any amendment made by this Act is implemented, the 
     Administrator shall make publicly available the rate tables 
     and underwriting guidelines that provide the basis for the 
     change.
       (3) Report on policy and claims data.--
       (A) In general.--Not later than 90 days after the date of 
     enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall submit to 
     Congress a report on the feasibility of--
       (i) releasing property-level policy and claims data for 
     flood insurance coverage under the National Flood Insurance 
     Program; and
       (ii) establishing guidelines for releasing property-level 
     policy and claims data for flood insurance coverage under the 
     National Flood Insurance Program in accordance with section 
     552a of title 5, United States Code (commonly known as the 
     ``Privacy Act of 1974'').

[[Page S578]]

       (B) Contents.--The report submitted under subparagraph (A) 
     shall include--
       (i) an analysis and assessment of how releasing property-
     level policy and claims data for flood insurance coverage 
     under the National Flood Insurance Program will aid policy 
     holders and insurers to understand how the Administration 
     determines actuarial premium rates and assesses flood risks; 
     and
       (ii) recommendations for protecting personal information in 
     accordance with section 552a of title 5, United States Code 
     (commonly known as the ``Privacy Act of 1974'').

     SEC. 104. AFFORDABILITY STUDY AND REPORT.

       Notwithstanding the deadline under section 100236(c) of the 
     Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 
     112-141; 126 Stat. 957), not later than 2 years after the 
     date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall submit 
     to the full Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs 
     and the full Committee on Appropriations of the Senate and 
     the full Committee on Financial Services and the full 
     Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives 
     the affordability study and report required under such 
     section.

     SEC. 105. AFFORDABILITY STUDY FUNDING.

       Section 100236(d) of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance 
     Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-141; 126 Stat. 957) is 
     amended by striking ``not more than $750,000'' and inserting 
     ``such amounts as may be necessary''.

     SEC. 106. FUNDS TO REIMBURSE HOMEOWNERS AND COMMUNITIES FOR 
                   SUCCESSFUL MAP APPEALS.

       (a) In General.--Section 1363(f) of the National Flood 
     Insurance Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 4104(f)) is amended--
       (1) in the first sentence, by inserting after ``as the case 
     may be,'' the following: ``or, in the case of an appeal that 
     is resolved by submission of conflicting data to the 
     Scientific Resolution Panel provided for in section 1363A, 
     the community,''; and
       (2) by striking the second sentence and inserting the 
     following: ``The Administrator may use such amounts from the 
     National Flood Insurance Fund established under section 1310 
     as may be necessary to carry out this subsection.''.
       (b) Conforming Amendment.--Section 1310(a) of the National 
     Flood Insurance Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 4017(a)) is amended--
       (1) in paragraph (6), by striking ``and'' at the end;
       (2) in paragraph (7), by striking the period at the end and 
     inserting ``; and''; and
       (3) by adding at the end the following:
       ``(8) for carrying out section 1363(f).''.

     SEC. 107. FLOOD PROTECTION SYSTEMS.

       (a) Adequate Progress on Construction of Flood Protection 
     Systems.--Section 1307(e) of the National Flood Insurance Act 
     of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 4014(e)) is amended--
       (1) in the first sentence, by inserting ``or 
     reconstruction'' after ``construction'';
       (2) by striking the second sentence and inserting the 
     following: ``The Administrator shall find that adequate 
     progress on the construction or reconstruction of a flood 
     protection system, based on the present value of the 
     completed flood protection system, has been made only if (1) 
     100 percent of the cost of the system has been authorized, 
     (2) at least 60 percent of the cost of the system has been 
     appropriated, (3) at least 50 percent of the cost of the 
     system has been expended, and (4) the system is at least 50 
     percent completed.''; and
       (3) by adding at the end the following: ``Notwithstanding 
     any other provision of law, in determining whether a 
     community has made adequate progress on the construction, 
     reconstruction, or improvement of a flood protection system, 
     the Administrator shall consider all sources of funding, 
     including Federal, State, and local funds.''.
       (b) Communities Restoring Disaccredited Flood Protection 
     Systems.--Section 1307(f) of the National Flood Insurance Act 
     of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 4014(f)) is amended by striking the first 
     sentence and inserting the following: ``Notwithstanding any 
     other provision of law, this subsection shall apply to 
     riverine and coastal levees that are located in a community 
     which has been determined by the Administrator of the Federal 
     Emergency Management Agency to be in the process of restoring 
     flood protection afforded by a flood protection system that 
     had been previously accredited on a Flood Insurance Rate Map 
     as providing 100-year frequency flood protection but no 
     longer does so, and shall apply without regard to the level 
     of Federal funding of or participation in the construction, 
     reconstruction, or improvement of the flood protection 
     system.''.

     SEC. 108. TREATMENT OF FLOODPROOFED RESIDENTIAL BASEMENTS.

       In implementing section 1308(h) of the National Flood 
     Insurance Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 4015(h)), the Administrator 
     shall rate a covered structure using the elevation difference 
     between the floodproofed elevation of the covered structure 
     and the adjusted base flood elevation of the covered 
     structure.

     SEC. 109. DESIGNATION OF FLOOD INSURANCE ADVOCATE.

       (a) In General.--The Administrator shall designate a Flood 
     Insurance Advocate to advocate for the fair treatment of 
     policy holders under the National Flood Insurance Program and 
     property owners in the mapping of flood hazards, the 
     identification of risks from flood, and the implementation of 
     measures to minimize the risk of flood.
       (b) Duties and Responsibilities.--The duties and 
     responsibilities of the Flood Insurance Advocate designated 
     under subsection (a) shall be to--
       (1) educate property owners and policyholders under the 
     National Flood Insurance Program on--
       (A) individual flood risks;
       (B) flood mitigation;
       (C) measures to reduce flood insurance rates through 
     effective mitigation; and
       (D) the flood insurance rate map review and amendment 
     process;
       (2) assist policy holders under the National Flood 
     Insurance Program and property owners to understand the 
     procedural requirements related to appealing preliminary 
     flood insurance rate maps and implementing measures to 
     mitigate evolving flood risks;
       (3) assist in the development of regional capacity to 
     respond to individual constituent concerns about flood 
     insurance rate map amendments and revisions;
       (4) coordinate outreach and education with local officials 
     and community leaders in areas impacted by proposed flood 
     insurance rate map amendments and revisions; and
       (5) aid potential policy holders under the National Flood 
     Insurance Program in obtaining and verifying accurate and 
     reliable flood insurance rate information when purchasing or 
     renewing a flood insurance policy.
       (c) Authorization of Appropriations.--There are authorized 
     to be appropriated for each fiscal year such sums as may be 
     necessary to carry out the duties and responsibilities of the 
     Flood Insurance Advocate.

     SEC. 110. HOME IMPROVEMENT FAIRNESS.

       Section 1307(a)(2)(E)(ii) of the National Flood Insurance 
     Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 4014(a)(2)(E)(ii)) is amended by 
     striking ``30 percent'' and inserting ``50 percent''.

     SEC. 111. EXCEPTIONS TO ESCROW REQUIREMENT FOR FLOOD 
                   INSURANCE PAYMENTS.

       (a) In General.--Section 102(d)(1) of the Flood Disaster 
     Protection Act of 1973 (42 U.S.C. 4012a(d)(1)) is amended--
       (1) in subparagraph (A), in the second sentence, by 
     striking ``subparagraph (C)'' and inserting ``subparagraph 
     (B)''; and
       (2) in subparagraph (B)--
       (A) in clause (ii), by redesignating subclauses (I) and 
     (II) as items (aa) and (bb), respectively, and adjusting the 
     margins accordingly;
       (B) by redesignating clauses (i) and (ii) as subclauses (I) 
     and (II), respectively, and adjusting the margins 
     accordingly;
       (C) in the matter preceding subclause (I), as redesignated 
     by subparagraph (B), by striking ``(A) or (B), if--'' and 
     inserting the following: ``(A)--
       ``(i) if--'';
       (D) by striking the period at the end and inserting ``; 
     or''; and
       (E) by adding at the end the following
       ``(ii) in the case of a loan that--

       ``(I) is in a junior or subordinate position to a senior 
     lien secured by the same residential improved real estate or 
     mobile home for which flood insurance is being provided at 
     the time of the origination of the loan;
       ``(II) is secured by residential improved real estate or a 
     mobile home that is part of a condominium, cooperative, or 
     other project development, if the residential improved real 
     estate or mobile home is covered by a flood insurance policy 
     that--

       ``(aa) meets the requirements that the regulated lending 
     institution is required to enforce under subsection (b)(1);
       ``(bb) is provided by the condominium association, 
     cooperative, homeowners association, or other applicable 
     group; and
       ``(cc) the premium for which is paid by the condominium 
     association, cooperative, homeowners association, or other 
     applicable group as a common expense;

       ``(III) is secured by residential improved real estate or a 
     mobile home that is used as collateral for a business 
     purpose;
       ``(IV) is a home equity line of credit;
       ``(V) is a nonperforming loan; or
       ``(VI) has a term of not longer than 12 months.''.

       (b) Applicability.--
       (1) In general.--
       (A) Required application.--The amendments to section 
     102(d)(1) of the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 (42 
     U.S.C. 4012a(d)(1)) made by section 100209(a) of the Biggert-
     Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-
     141; 126 Stat. 920) and by subsection (a) of this section 
     shall apply to any loan that is originated, refinanced, 
     increased, extended, or renewed on or after January 1, 2016.
       (B) Optional application.--
       (i) Definitions.--In this subparagraph--

       (I) the terms ``Federal entity for lending regulation'', 
     ``improved real estate'', ``regulated lending institution'', 
     and ``servicer'' have the meanings given the terms in section 
     3 of the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 (42 U.S.C. 
     4003);
       (II) the term ``outstanding loan'' means a loan that--

       (aa) is outstanding as of January 1, 2016;
       (bb) is not subject to the requirement to escrow premiums 
     and fees for flood insurance under section 102(d)(1) of the 
     Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 (42 U.S.C. 4012a(d)(1)) 
     as in effect on July 5, 2012; and
       (cc) would, if the loan had been originated, refinanced, 
     increased, extended, or renewed on or after January 1, 2016, 
     be subject to the requirements under section 102(d)(1)(A) of 
     the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973, as amended; and

       (III) the term ``section 102(d)(1)(A) of the Flood Disaster 
     Protection Act of 1973, as amended'' means section 
     102(d)(1)(A) of the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 (42 
     U.S.C. 4012a(d)(1)(A)), as amended by--

[[Page S579]]

       (aa) section 100209(a) of the Biggert-Waters Flood 
     Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-141; 126 Stat. 
     920); and
       (bb) subsection (a) of this section.
       (ii) Option to escrow flood insurance payments.--Each 
     Federal entity for lending regulation (after consultation and 
     coordination with the Federal Financial Institutions 
     Examination Council) shall, by regulation, direct that each 
     regulated lending institution or servicer of an outstanding 
     loan shall offer and make available to a borrower the option 
     to have the borrower's payment of premiums and fees for flood 
     insurance under the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 (42 
     U.S.C. 4001 et seq.), including the escrow of such payments, 
     be treated in the same manner provided under section 
     102(d)(1)(A) of the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973, as 
     amended.
       (2) Repeal of 2-year delay on applicability.--Subsection 
     (b) of section 100209 of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance 
     Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-141; 126 Stat. 920) is 
     repealed.
       (3) Rule of construction.--Nothing in this section or the 
     amendments made by this section shall be construed to 
     supersede, during the period beginning on July 6, 2012 and 
     ending on December 31, 2015, the requirements under section 
     102(d)(1) of the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 (42 
     U.S.C. 4012a(d)(1)), as in effect on July 5, 2012.

     SEC. 112. MONTHLY INSTALLMENT PAYMENTS FOR PREMIUMS.

       Section 1308(g) of the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 
     (42 U.S.C. 4015(g)) is amended by striking ``either annually 
     or in more frequent installments'' and inserting ``annually, 
     monthly, or in other installments that are more frequent than 
     annually''.

     SEC. 113. ACCOUNTING FOR FLOOD MITIGATION ACTIVITIES IN 
                   ESTIMATES OF PREMIUM RATES.

       Section 1307(a)(1) of the National Flood Insurance Act of 
     1968 (42 U.S.C. 4014(a)(1)) is amended by amending 
     subparagraph (A) to read as follows:
       ``(A) based on consideration of--
       ``(i) the risk involved and accepted actuarial principles; 
     and
       ``(ii) the flood mitigation activities that an owner or 
     lessee has undertaken on a property, including differences in 
     the risk involved due to land use measures, floodproofing, 
     flood forecasting, and similar measures,''.

  Mr. TOOMEY. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. MERKLEY. I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum 
call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                    Amendment No. 2709, As Modified

  Mr. MERKLEY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the pending 
amendment be set aside so I may call up amendment No. 2709, and that 
the amendment be modified to correct a typographical error.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The clerk will report the amendment.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Oregon [Mr. Merkley] proposes an amendment 
     numbered 2709, as modified.

  The amendment is as follows:

     (Purpose: To establish limitations on force-placed insurance)

       At the end of title I, add the following:

     SEC. 110. LIMITATIONS ON FORCE-PLACED INSURANCE.

       Section 102(e) of the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 
     (42 U.S.C. 4012a(e)) is amended--
       (1) by redesignating paragraphs (3) through (6) as 
     paragraphs (4) through (7), respectively; and
       (2) by inserting after paragraph (2) the following:
       ``(3) Limitations on lenders and servicers.--
       ``(A) Payments from insurance companies.--An lender or 
     servicer, or an affiliate of a lender or servicer, may not 
     receive a commission or any other payment from an insurance 
     company in connection with securing business under paragraph 
     (2) from the insurance company.
       ``(B) Purchase from affiliated insurance companies.--
       ``(i) In general.--Except as provided in clause (ii), a 
     lender or servicer, or an affiliate of a lender or servicer, 
     that purchases insurance under paragraph (2) may not purchase 
     the insurance from an insurance company that is affiliated 
     with the lender or servicer.
       ``(ii) Exception.--Clause (i) shall not apply to the 
     purchase of insurance under paragraph (2) by a lender or 
     servicer, or an affiliate of a lender or servicer, that is a 
     bank, or a Federal credit union or State credit union (as 
     those terms are defined in section 101 of the Federal Credit 
     Union Act (12 U.S.C. 1752)), with assets of not more than 
     $10,000,000,000.''.

  Mr. MERKLEY. Mr. President, I will take this occasion to make a 
couple of remarks about the content of this amendment.
  This amendment is about a predatory practice that is involved in the 
flood insurance world, and that predatory practice occurs when a 
servicer of mortgages places flood insurance on a property--be it a 
home or a business. They sometimes arrange a very expensive policy to 
be placed on the property. The reason they do this is that the 
insurer--the insurance company that has prepared the policy--is 
charging many times the market rate, but in exchange they pay the 
servicer a large bonus.
  We remember how bonuses in the subprime world were used to steer 
families from prime mortgages into subprime mortgages. In this case the 
bonus is being paid to the servicer so the servicer will steer the 
family into an expensive insurance policy rather than a fair market 
rate policy.
  My amendment takes a very simple approach and says that these bonus 
payments or incentive payments--or whatever name you would like to give 
to them--from the insurer to the servicer in order to utilize their 
very expensive, above market rate product rather than a fair market 
rate product will not be allowed. That eliminates this conflict of 
interest and will enable the servicer to provide a fair service of 
placing flood insurance on a property if it is required under the terms 
of the mortgage, but not to do so in a predatory manner.
  I hope that all of our colleagues on both sides of the aisle will 
take a look at this practice and realize that the overall scope of this 
bill is about a fair deal for families who are in the situation of 
being required under their mortgage to obtain flood insurance. Part of 
that fair deal should involve ending this particular predatory premium 
practice on force-placed flood insurance.
  I note the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. CORKER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                           Amendment No. 2707

  Mr. CORKER. Mr. President, I wish to speak very briefly on the Toomey 
amendment. I know we have on the floor a bill that basically, let's 
face it, puts off for about 4 years reforms we put into the Flood 
Insurance Program. It is a $24 billion program. It is a very small, in 
essence, entitlement program we have in this country.
  I am very despondent over the fact that we passed these reforms 
unanimously out of the Banking Committee in 2011. That took place in 
October of 2013.
  Our Nation is facing incredible entitlement problems, and we all know 
it. People on both sides of the aisle have been down here ad nauseam 
talking about the fact that as a Nation, the No. 1 threat we have is 
our inability to deal with the fiscal issues we know we have throughout 
the entitlement programs we have in this country. Here we have a 
situation where, unanimously, out of the Banking Committee, we passed 
reforms to deal with the flood insurance program which we know is 
moving quickly towards insolvency.
  So what do we do? Maybe instead of being the most deliberative body 
in the world, we might be described as the most pandering body in the 
world. What we are doing instead is punting on these reforms. I am 
discouraged by that. It is amazing. I think we have not shown the 
ability to really address any of the bigger issues that our Nation has 
to deal with.
  Obviously, I would be more responsive to a bill that maybe made 
tweaks or did some things to make this work in a way that was not quite 
as draconian. But the fact is we all know the way the program works. It 
is just not sustainable, and we know that, in essence, taxpayers all 
across this country are subsidizing folks who are participating in a 
national program that called for them to have insurance relative to 
their own property.
  So in an effort to try to deal with this in a more thoughtful way, 
Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania has offered an amendment to ensure that 
the increases in premiums people are facing

[[Page S580]]

are done in a way that obviously dramatically reduces the impact on 
people. Again, I applaud that. I appreciate that. I think there are 
some homeowners in this country, as well as property owners, who are 
having--the way the program now works, these increases would take place 
over the next 4 to 5 years. Instead, the Toomey amendment causes them 
to not increase--especially for those who make under a certain amount 
of money--more than 25 percent a year. So if someone has a $200 bill 
for flood insurance next year, it would go up 50 percent.
  I think it is a thoughtful effort to try to cause this bill to still 
be actuarially sound. It has no negative impact on our deficits. I 
think it is a way for us to deal with this in a much better way than, 
let's face it, putting our heads in the sand and not taking on this 
issue.
  I want to go back one more time and say this is one of the few 
reforms--it may be the only reform that I am aware of--that has 
actually become law that has come out of the Banking Committee in 
several years. It did so unanimously. This is in essence an entitlement 
program. It is a small entitlement program. I understand it is very 
important to some property owners around our country. But if we as a 
body are going to turn away from reforms and not replace those reforms 
with other reforms but instead delay--in essence what most people 
believe because of the way FEMA operates--delay this for 4 years, then 
I think it speaks to a body that just really has no desire whatsoever 
to take on the issues that are so important to our Nation's citizens.
  So I think the Toomey amendment is a thoughtful approach to try to 
deal with the issue, which I think is affecting many people in this 
body who have people they represent who are going through substantial 
increases in a way that they feel to be too draconian. So if that is a 
Senator's issue, I urge people to strongly support the Toomey 
amendment.
  By the way, with the passage of the Toomey amendment, which leaves 
the rest of the reforms in place, I will then believe we have done 
something in this body that is thoughtful. We will have attempted to 
make this Flood Insurance Program actuarially sound and, at the same 
time, we will have solved the issue that I think so many people here 
are concerned about. Without the passage of the Toomey amendment as a 
part of this bill, I wish to say one more time, this body will have 
failed once again. With a very, very, very small entitlement program, 
we will have failed to rise to the occasion, to put our country, 
minimally, on a course toward solvency, and instead turned away from 
this effort which speaks to the fact that there is almost no likelihood 
that we will ever, within the short period of the midterm anyway, be 
able to address the bigger issues we all know are looming and are 
affecting our country in such a big way.
  I urge strong support for the Toomey amendment. Without the Toomey 
amendment, I hope this body will vote down this bill which undoes the 
only real reforms the Banking Committee has put in place in the last 
several years.
  With that, I yield the floor, and I thank the Presiding Officer for 
the time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New York.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, I thank my colleague and friend from 
Tennessee for his, as usual, thoughtful presentation, even though I 
disagree with it. His positions are always thoughtful, carefully 
thought out, and I appreciate his thoughts and efforts.
  The need to pass the Menendez-Isakson-Landrieu bill is extremely 
important. In New York we have seen the follies of the present flood 
insurance law. We have seen follies in a variety of ways. Most of all, 
we have seen homeowners charged a fortune which they can't afford. We 
have seen homeowners told that even if they are not going to be 
charged, immediately when they sell their home, the rate will go up so 
high that they can't sell their home, so the value of the home 
decreases.
  We have seen people--victims of Sandy--whose homes were destroyed or 
badly damaged, rebuild their homes and then be perhaps forced to lose 
them because of ridiculous flood insurance rates. We have seen the 
problems with the maps--areas 5 miles from the nearest flood somehow 
get called a flood zone and they have to pay more insurance.
  We have seen FEMA overreaching in terms of drawing maps. In fact, in 
my State, they used Suffolk County's flood maps and flood levels and 
just transposed them on Nassau County--a different place with different 
elevations and different tides, and we had to get that undone. So a 
moratorium, going back to the drawing board and holding rates in place 
while that happens, makes eminent sense.
  It is true it will cost the government some money. But what is our 
job here? Is it to let thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of 
thousands default, lose their homes while we stand here and twiddle our 
thumbs? I don't think so. I don't think the vast majority of Americans 
think that. We have to figure out how to deal with flood insurance and 
the Menendez-Isakson-Landrieu bill does that. But while we are doing 
it, we have to make sure people don't lose their homes. There are many 
more storms out there. We know that. We have had a Katrina and a Sandy, 
creating unprecedented damage. It certainly means that the old flood 
insurance program probably has to be changed. But to just eliminate it, 
basically, by not passing this bill or by passing the Toomey amendment 
which, in effect, would eliminate it, makes no sense and would cause 
huge damage.
  I rise in opposition to the Toomey amendment. If a person believes 
there should be some level of affordability before we impose rates, 
then a person can't vote for the Toomey bill. Because the Toomey bill 
basically has mandatory rate increases before any affordability study 
is concluded. It repeats the mistake of Biggert-Waters. Biggert-Waters 
actually called for an affordability study. FEMA didn't complete the 
affordability study and still had the rates go into effect.
  If affordability is one of our hallmarks, and I believe it is, then 
it certainly makes no sense to do what FEMA has done under Biggert-
Waters, which is put rate increases in effect before affordability is 
studied or do what Toomey does, which actually explicitly says rate 
increases shall go into effect before the affordability study is 
completed.
  Furthermore, the Toomey amendment, in my judgment, means we may as 
well have nothing at all; we might as well go back to the old, because 
it establishes an uncapped annual fee on all 5.6 million NFIP 
policyholders for an unspecified period of time until the identified 
costs of this bill are offset.
  There is no guarantee that homeowners would be protected from a 
$30,000 premium, if that is what the actuaries think. Speaking for my 
State of New York, they say it is people on the water. It is second 
homes. It is rich people. Not in New York, it is not. We have all seen 
the pictures of homes damaged in Staten Island, in the Rockaways, 
Queens, in southern Brooklyn, on the southern shore of Long Island--
modest homes, some of them even called bungalows, where people live 
full-time. In Long Beach, average folks--firefighters, teachers, cops, 
clerks, secretaries, small business people who struggle--double or 
triple or quadruple their insurance rates, their flood insurance rates, 
and they can't get by.
  One other point I wish to make. Some of my colleagues said: This 
doesn't effect me. It is going to because FEMA is remapping across the 
country. They have done a lot of the remapping in New York. I have 
talked about how irresponsible what they have done is. Once they come 
to other Members' States and maps, they will see that the mapping is 
almost nonsensical, mapping people into flood zones who have never had 
a flood, charging rates that average folks cannot afford. From what I 
am told, Pennsylvania is the State with the highest percentage of new 
mapping activity; 14 percent of all new mapping activity, 1,400 maps. 
So I think even for my good friend from Pennsylvania--and I know he is 
a true believer in these things and I don't doubt that and I respect 
his integrity, but it is sure going to affect the people of 
Pennsylvania.
  Guess which State is second in terms of new maps? New York: 625. That 
is why I feel so strongly and have worked so hard with Senators 
Menendez and Isakson and Landrieu, who have done such a fabulous job on 
this legislation to get it passed.

[[Page S581]]

  So I urge defeat of the Toomey amendment. The Toomey amendment is 
almost a mirror image of the bill itself, the Biggert-Waters bill, 
which we are tying to counteract and because FEMA did not implement it 
correctly.
  If the Toomey amendment is defeated, and if our flood insurance bill, 
which I am a proud cosponsor of, is passed, homeowners will be able to 
breathe a sigh of real relief while FEMA goes back to the drawing 
boards and figures out a way to have a flood insurance program that 
does not bankrupt thousands of middle-class, working-class people.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                           Amendment No. 2697

  Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I believe when I left the floor my 
amendment was pending, amendment No. 2697. I would like to spend a few 
minutes to talk about that amendment. I know somebody else has come to 
the floor here rather quickly and I have about 5 minutes, I have been 
told by the cloakroom.
  Congressional creation of the National Association of Registered 
Agents and Brokers, the bill that has been attached to the flood bill, 
usurps the rights of States' authority over insurance licensing and 
regulations.
  Congress established the McCarran-Ferguson Act that States should 
retain the regulatory authority over insurance laws.
  While NARAB II was crafted to retain primacy of insurance regulations 
and enforcement actions within the States, this bill will nevertheless 
compel States to accept a national license within their jurisdictions.
  The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office stated:

       . . . the association's authority would exist only through 
     a preemption of states' power to regulate the licensing of 
     insurance producers. This preemption would stem from an 
     exercise of the sovereign power of the federal government.

  NARAB II provides the President and his or her appointee the 
authority to nullify the decisions made by the NARAB board but does not 
extend any of the same rights to the individual States.
  My amendment will provide a State the opportunity to opt out of 
participation in NARAB only through the passage of legislation by the 
State legislature and signature of the Governor, and it will not allow 
State insurance commissioners to opt out on a whim.
  To prevent a disruptive transition, this amendment requires a 2-year 
delay between passage of State legislation and the effective date of an 
opt-out. So you cannot get out just like that. It is 2 years.
  In order to maintain the foundation of reciprocity and prevent States 
from gaming the provision for a competitive advantage, insurance 
producers located within a State that opts out of NARAB would be 
ineligible from participating in the NARAB system. So if your State 
opts out, you lose the privilege of going to other States.
  The inclusion of this provision would accomplish the bill's goal of 
streamlining and cost-savings without the continuation of Congress 
infringing on activities that should be left to the States.
  The amendment will still allow for the benefits provided by a 
multistate licensing process to reduce the bureaucracy involved for 
producers to access customers in other States, which will help increase 
competition and lower consumer costs--things I am totally for. 
Actually, I am for this bill, but only with preserving the Tenth 
Amendment rights of States.
  The provision will also provide a safeguard from NARAB if 10 years 
from now it is not working as well as the current consensus has hoped 
and a State or States no longer wish to participate.
  As the bill's proponents have already pointed out, NARAB has the 
support of every State and every insurance producer. They all agree. If 
that is the case, and this is so popular and such a needed reform, then 
no State will opt out, and the opt-out provision would be mute, while 
still protecting the States' rights.
  I understand the opposition to this, that they think this will not 
get off the ground. But the very statements that have been made both in 
the committee and on the floor--that everybody wants this, all the 
insurance industry wants this, all the State insurance commissioners 
want this--if that is the case, nobody will opt out and we will have 
met our constitutional duty of protecting the Bill of Rights for the 
States.
  I finish by saying this: One of the reasons we are in extreme 
difficulty--what physicians would call extremis--is that we have 
ignored States rights, we have ignored the Bill of Rights, and we have 
said we are primal.
  So as CBO said, we are stepping all over this. I understand I 
probably will not be able to stop it, but it is another indication of 
why we need the Enumerated Powers Act. That is simply a bill sponsored 
by 44 Senators that says if you bring a bill to the floor, you have to 
give the authority under which the enumerated powers would justify you 
bringing this bill to the floor--to make us pause, just to think about 
it.
  I do not think it is unreasonable. People may disagree about whether 
States ought to have the right to opt out, but if the program is such 
as has been designed by the authors of this bill and the statements by 
the people who have spoken on this bill on the floor--if that is the 
case--putting this amendment in will not harm it at all; it will not 
ever be used.
  So it is simply saying, if they want to opt out, it is 2 years after 
they vote in their legislature and it is signed by the Governor before 
they can, so there is no disruption. Nobody is going to do that, if it 
is true what everybody who is supporting this bill has said.
  It is peculiar and curious to me why anybody would oppose this 
amendment if, in fact, the facts are as stated by those supporting 
NARAB II. And I support it. But I think we ought to protect the States' 
constitutional rights.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Jersey.
  Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, I know the distinguished Senator from 
North Dakota is going to speak, but if she would withhold for 1 moment, 
I ask unanimous consent that the time until 4:45 p.m. be equally 
divided between the two leaders or their designees; that at 4:45 p.m. 
today the Senate proceed to votes in relation to the following: 
Menendez motion to waive budget points of order against S. 1926, Reed 
amendment No. 2703, Whitehouse amendment No. 2706, and Gillibrand 
amendment No. 2708--I would expect those amendments would go by voice--
and, finally, there be 2 minutes of debate in between the votes, 
equally divided in the usual form.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from North Dakota.
  Ms. HEITKAMP. Mr. President, thank you so much for this opportunity 
to stand and support a bill that has taken a long time to get to the 
floor of the U.S. Senate. I remember back when Members such as Senator 
Mary Landrieu stood and sounded the alarm--sounded the alarm even 
before we saw the problem coming. As a result of that initial effort, 
and as a result of the great effort of the gentleman who just left the 
floor, Mr. Menendez, we now have a bill on the floor where we can truly 
say we are actually listening to the middle class.
  How many times do you think in this body we talk about the working 
folks, who go to work every day, doing everything they can to put food 
on the table, and they just need us to not cause more problems for 
them? We hear about the middle class, and last night during the State 
of the Union speech, again more discussion about the need to pay 
attention to the financial struggles and the challenges of working 
families.
  Well, let me tell you, this is a bill that for so many working 
families in North Dakota and across the country can mean the difference 
between home ownership or no home ownership, can mean the difference 
between actually having equity in their home or having a house that is 
under water.

[[Page S582]]

  I am not exaggerating. This is a critical part of the housing market. 
It has created uncertainty in the housing market while we are trying to 
achieve some success and some continuing momentum. Housing is 20 
percent of what we do in this country in our economy, but yet this is 
throwing a monkey wrench into the housing market for so many families 
and for so many States.
  I want to not tell anything new here maybe but to kind of give a 
different perspective because I think all too often people think flood 
insurance is about the coast or it is about the gulf or it is about 
what is happening maybe along a major river, whether it is the 
Mississippi. But let me tell you, in my State flooding is a reality for 
way too many people. It is a problem we have experienced during these 
wet cycles that has led to devastation, has led to loss of equity in 
folks' homes, and it has led to uncertainty.
  I want to talk a little bit about two places you may not think of 
because you have all heard about the massive Grand Forks flood, and 
you, of course, watched television as we were looking at what could 
have potentially happened in our largest city, the city of Fargo, ND.
  But what you may not know is we have a city called Minot, ND, that 
experienced a devastating flood, an absolutely devastating flood, to a 
tremendous amount of affordable housing--that housing that was along 
the bodyway. They thought they were protected from a hundred-year 
flood. Many did not have flood insurance, and the hundred-year flood 
came and devastated and wiped out literally hundreds and hundreds of 
good, hard-working families and retired folks.
  They are looking to rebuild, but right now the uncertainty of flood 
insurance and what is going to happen with the new flood maps has 
slowed down that effort. It has created uncertainty. I just had a 
meeting in the city of Minot, where I talked to the mayor, talked to 
the city officials, and asked the questions about whether they were 
seeing this uncertainty. They certainly are getting lots of questions. 
I would love to tell those hard-working North Dakotans that we 
actually, in Washington, DC, can hear what they are saying.
  I also wish to talk about another place way off from Minot. It is in 
the Red River Valley. It is a place called Grafton, ND, where a great 
North Dakota family, Allison and Kyle, purchased their home 1 year ago. 
At the time, the flood insurance rate on their home was $900 a year.
  They knew that when they bought the house.
  They said: OK. Fine. We have this extra expenditure in order to meet 
our mortgage requirement. They built that into their budget. This is 
coverage for $100,000. It seemed reasonable. It seemed like they were 
paying their fair share. But when the policy recently came up after the 
changes in the Biggert-Waters law, their flood insurance rate 
skyrocketed to $4,200 a year--$4,200 a year. That is a 375-percent 
increase.
  In an email to me, Allison expressed a desire to raise their children 
in Grafton, but unfortunately they no longer can afford to live there 
with those rates because in Grafton we do not have flood protection. As 
a result, the entire community is probably in the 100-year flood plain. 
You are going to buy a house. You are going to get a mortgage. You are 
going to be required to get flood insurance.
  So not only is Allison devastated by this news, the whole community 
of Grafton is now struggling with this increase in flood insurance. In 
the community of Valley City, a home has a flood insurance bill that 
just went from $700 to more than $10,000 a year. Think about that. A 
lot of people who hear that amount would say: Is that your mortgage 
payment? No. They say: It is flood insurance. Get this. That flood 
insurance is for $60,000 worth of coverage.
  We have an opportunity here to act as a body that actually listens to 
the challenges of the American people and actually reforms and looks 
back when we make decisions, decisions such as Biggert-Waters, and as 
Senator Menendez has so often said, the concerns about affordability 
were raised at the time. They assumed those would be taken into 
consideration as they moved forward with the rate reduction. It did not 
happen and these rates went up.
  But we also have a unique issue in North Dakota; it is called the 
basement exemption. When you think about at what level your house is 
protected, you think about your foundation, to that level where your 
yard basically meets your foundation. Because we waterproofed our 
basements along the Red River Valley in a lot of our communities we 
were given an exemption. Lots of money went into waterproofing and 
making those basements flood-proof.
  One might ask: Why do you need a basement? Just put it on a slab. 
North Dakota, unbeknownst to a lot of people, suffers from tornados. In 
fact, Fargo was devastated in the 1950s by a tornado. So people take 
very seriously that emergency shelter that is provided in basements, 
and frequently those basements get rehabbed and as a result were used 
as flood control back when those homes were built.
  But now we have a basement exemption. People have made the 
investment. FEMA has, in fact, suggested that the basement exemptions 
will no longer be valid for all of those communities that have relied 
on that to provide affordable housing in their communities. So this 
bill retains and says clearly that the basement exemption, after people 
made investments and reliance on the government--reliance on the 
government's word, that we will, in fact, have protection. Without this 
provision, without the basement exemption, flood insurance rates in 
these areas that rely on basements could go up again $10,000 a year.
  The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act provides a balanced, 
targeted approach. This bill gives FEMA the authority needed to 
implement reforms included in Biggert-Waters in a thoughtful way, to 
improve the program's solvency, and phase out certain subsidies without 
pricing people out of their homes and out of the program.
  It delays the premium increases until FEMA completes that all-
important affordability study required under Biggert-Waters and 
proposes regulations that allow time for Congress to review. There have 
been some positive steps since many of my colleagues have come to the 
floor, including myself, to sound the alarm so many months ago. But we 
need still to pass this bill.
  I think the time is now. What better way--what better way for us to 
respond to the call of looking at and improving the condition of the 
middle class than to say: We heard. We listened. We understood the 
challenges and today we acted. We heard that you want to own your home. 
We heard that the Federal Government ought not get in the way of you 
owning your home.
  I would encourage all of my colleagues--all of my colleagues--to send 
a message, send a message that we are putting our votes where our 
mouths are; that we are, in fact, voting to improve the condition of 
very many working-class and middle-class American citizens who have had 
great uncertainty created as a result of flood insurance.
  I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                       State of the Union Address

  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, last night during the President's State of 
the Union speech, I felt as though I was watching another rerun of one 
of my favorite movies, ``Groundhog Day'' with Bill Murray. Of course, 
we all remember that movie. Bill Murray, the principal character, 
relives exactly the same 24 hours over and over and over again.
  Of course, that is what the President's State of the Union reminded 
me of, because what we heard is a replay of a lot of the ideas we have 
heard in previous State of the Union speeches. But, unfortunately, the 
President's speech and his claims in many respects did not reflect 
reality for most people.
  It is apparent the President has not changed in this respect. He 
still thinks slow economic growth and high unemployment, that the 
answer to that is

[[Page S583]]

more government spending and more government control over the economy. 
I would say in the debates we have had in this Chamber and elsewhere 
and that Americans have had throughout the course of our history since 
our country's founding about the size and the role of the Federal 
Government, usually we end up debating philosophy, ideology, and 
theory.
  But the last 5 years have given us the proof we need that big 
government does not work; not to deny that people do not have the best 
of intentions, but we know promise after promise has been made, whether 
it is for the trillion-dollar stimulus--what it would do to 
unemployment. The President later said, in a moment of candor: Well, I 
guess shovel ready was not all that shovel ready. Nancy Pelosi talked 
about timely, targeted, and temporary stimulus. Again, this was 
borrowed money. This is money we did not have which was added to our 
debt, which simply did not work. Then of course there is the example of 
ObamaCare. But let's just review. For the last 5 years, the President 
pushed through this trillion-dollar stimulus, a $1.8 trillion dollar 
health care law, a $1.7 trillion increase in new taxes, and about one-
half trillion dollars in new regulations.
  That is what happens, for example, when I go home to Texas. My 
community bankers and credit unions say: We have hired new people, but 
the people we have hired are the ones to fill out the paperwork that is 
required by the new regulations that are the result of Dodd-Frank.
  This is another example of where Wall Street perhaps was the target 
but Main Street was the collateral damage. So all these new regulations 
have a cost to them because businesses, if they are going to be in 
business, are going to have to hire people to comply with those 
regulations, but that doesn't help grow the economy. That doesn't help 
make us more productive, and it doesn't put as many people back to work 
as we would hope would be going back to work in productive jobs.
  Let us consider some of the results of some of these items: the 
stimulus, the health care bill, the new regulations, and new taxes.
  Between 2009 and 2013, we have seen median household income fall by 
more than $2,500, so that is $2,500 less than an average family has to 
spend on everything from their food to their heating or air-
conditioning bill--$2,500 less.
  Then we know that the labor participation rate--that is a fancy name 
for the percentage of people actually in the workforce--has fallen to a 
three-decade low. It has fallen by 3 percentage points since 2009, 
meaning that many fewer people are actually in the workforce looking 
for work. If they were still in the workforce looking for work, the 
employment rate would actually be much higher, but they aren't counted 
once they drop out of the workforce. Then we know that long-term 
unemployment has increased dramatically as a total share of 
unemployment.
  Of course, all of this happened after the recession was over. The 
technical definition of a recession, I believe, is two consecutive 
terms of negative economic growth. But amazingly a poll conducted only 
last week reflected that 74 percent of the respondents thought we were 
still in a recession. Whether it is a technical recession, people still 
feel as if we are in one. That is a remarkable number, an unfortunate 
but yet scathing indictment of the President's economic policies which 
have not delivered what he had hoped and had promised to deliver.
  What is the big idea that the President has to solve this problem or 
to address these concerns of average hard-working American families? 
The big idea is let's raise the minimum wage. Superficially, I admit 
raising the minimum wage has some appeal, but the fact is, when 
employers have to pay more for their workers, overall that is less 
money to hire new people. One study estimated that raising the minimum 
wage to $9.50 an hour--that is less than the $10.10 the President has 
proposed--would destroy no fewer than 468,000 jobs. Think about it. 
There is some money with which to hire people, but rather than hire 
more people, the government sets the wages, meaning they can't hire 
these other people. That is how it has an either/or effect in terms of 
jobs. One study calculated that raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour 
could potentially destroy as many as 2.3 million jobs.
  The President chose to ignore this reality last night in his speech. 
He was eloquent, as always, and gives a great speech. But he said once 
again--or reiterated once again--if he can't get what he wants from 
Congress, he is prepared to go it alone.
  Last night he said he was going to issue an executive order giving a 
40-percent pay raise to Federal contractors, even though the White 
House cannot tell us how many workers would actually be affected 
because they don't know.
  But who will end up paying more? The Federal Government.
  We are talking about raising spending by the Federal Government by 40 
percent for these Federal contractors. Somebody has to pay that money, 
so it is either going to be the taxpayers or it is going to be added to 
our deficits and debt.
  I don't want to be a wet blanket, so let me end on a more positive 
note, something we could actually do together that would actually make 
a difference on those long-term unemployed, on people stuck in jobs 
that are dead end or which they are frustrated with because they are 
not able to earn the income they want for their family and to live 
their dream.
  One of the debates we should have had earlier but for the majority 
leader denying us an opportunity to offer any amendments, debate, and 
vote on the unemployment insurance extension--but I believe we will see 
that again--is how could we help people learn the skills they need to 
qualify for the good, high-paying jobs that exist. But there is not 
enough trained workforce with the skills they need in order to pay for 
those good, high-paying jobs.
  We know there are a lot of workforce training initiatives. Our friend 
and colleague from Oklahoma tells us there are some 40 different worker 
training programs, and he has proposed they ought to be consolidated 
and perhaps streamlined so more of that money could be focused on 
giving people the education and the tools they need in order to qualify 
for these good jobs.
  I saw a glimpse of what could happen, and thankfully is happening 
back in Houston, TX, at San Jacinto College, where I had the 
opportunity to meet some of these inspiring Texans, people who are 
pursuing their dream.
  I met an Iraq war veteran named Jordan Chauvette, who went back to 
school with the help of the Hazlewood Act. The Hazlewood Act is a State 
law that provides tuition benefits to veterans and their families. His 
goal was to learn the skills he would need in order to live a better 
life and earn a better income for his wife and family.
  He recently graduated from San Jacinto College and now is working at 
an engineering and construction company based in the city of La Porte. 
If I might interject, one of the reasons there is so much construction, 
manufacturing--an economic boom taking place in this part of our 
State--is because of the shale gas revolution. This is one of the 
brightest spots in our economy, our energy sector, domestic production 
producing cleaner natural gas. The President talked about that a little 
bit last night. It is creating these manufacturing jobs because natural 
gas happens to be feedstock necessary for the petrochemical industry.
  Many of the jobs that exist that need these technical skills are the 
sorts of jobs these young men and women are training for at San Jacinto 
College. Everything is connected to everything else, but this is how 
domestic energy production--some of which the President talked about 
last night--is so important in terms of bringing that manufacturing 
back on shore. Then we need to have the job training in order to teach 
people the skills they need in order to qualify for these good, high-
paying jobs.
  Let's look at the case of Deanna Harper, who received a cosmetology 
degree from San Jacinto and then went back to school and earned a 
degree in something called process technology. I don't pretend to 
understand everything that process technology involves, but all I know 
is she is a wife, a mother, and she is earning a six-figure salary 
working in the energy industry. It is a terrific story.

  I remember a few years ago in Amarillo, TX, meeting a young Hispanic

[[Page S584]]

woman, a single mother, who had been working as a prison guard--a 
dangerous, tough job. But thanks to the degree she received from 
Amarillo College, she was able to go to work on the B-22 Osprey 
assembly line making in excess of, I believe, $25 an hour and with a 
great career ahead of her.
  What it took was the opportunity for her to go back to school, learn 
those skills, match those skills with the job, and lift herself up by 
her own bootstraps.
  So many other Texans--Jordan, Deanna, and this young woman I 
mentioned from Amarillo--have benefited from the recent surge of 
private investment into petrochemicals and manufacturing, which I 
mentioned a moment ago. The skills they acquired and the job training 
they had at San Jacinto prepared them not only for a good job but for 
an upwardly mobile career in a fast-growing industry.
  At a time of stubbornly high national unemployment and people giving 
up and dropping out of the workforce, we should be doing everything we 
possibly can to ensure that such jobs and careers are available to all 
Americans who want them. In that sense we should be doing everything 
possible to bring this sort of example to Washington, DC, and to spread 
it nationally.
  The truth is there are stories such as this occurring everywhere, but 
there is more we could do. Certainly, one is take up one of the 
suggestions of our friend from Oklahoma when he talks about the 
duplication, the waste, the inefficiency built into our job-training 
programs--to make them more efficient, to deliver it more streamlined, 
and to deliver better value to the people who need that training so 
they can qualify for these kinds of good, high-paying jobs.
  That is a much better idea than the Federal Government trying to make 
a political fix by fixing wages between an employer and a worker that 
artificially elevates those wages beyond what the market will bear and, 
in the process, limit the number of new people whom that employer can 
hire.
  These are only some of the ideas I think any reasonable person would 
say are not completely over the top, are not a crazy ideas, that kind 
of make sense. But that is exactly the sort of debate we are not having 
as a result of the restrictive way under which the majority leader is 
letting us take up consideration of some of this legislation such as 
the unemployment insurance bill.
  Soon, I predict, he will bring a minimum-wage increase bill to the 
floor. The question is, Is he going to allow amendments from this side 
of the aisle and the Democratic side of the aisle too? When he cuts off 
amendments from the floor of the Senate, it doesn't only hurt the 
minority. We don't like it, but it doesn't only hurt us. It hurts our 
friends on the other side of the aisle because they are not allowed to 
offer their constructive suggestions for what could improve the 
legislation. I thought that is why we are in the Senate, to try to 
produce the best product we can for the American people.
  We don't do it by writing bills in the majority leader's conference 
room, bringing them out here, and then trying to shove them on through. 
That is why we have the debate, the checks, the balances, and the 
deliberative process we have in the Senate. That is what we have not 
been having.
  I wished to raise a few examples of what we could be doing that would 
be enormously constructive and would help a lot of these struggling 
workers during a time of high unemployment and low labor participation 
to help them get back on track.
  I came away from that experience at San Jacinto College rejuvenated 
and encouraged that there is a lot we can do. We do know that people 
don't want to collect unemployment--maybe some do, but most people, the 
vast majority of people, want a job.
  Again, to repeat what the President talked about last night, he 
talked about the dignity of work. That is what the vast majority of 
people want; they want a good job. If we give them the opportunity to 
learn the skills and we give them a growing economy that is creating 
jobs, not fewer jobs, then they will be able to find that. I came away 
even more committed to adopting progrowth economic policies that will 
make it easier for all Americans to find work when they finish school.
  I close on this note. The press leading into the President's speech 
last night sounded as if it was going to be a whole lot more like he 
was going to go it alone. But he did at least offer an olive branch of 
trying to do things more constructively in the legislative branch, 
recognizing that our Constitution doesn't authorize the executive to do 
this all by himself. That is what checks and balances are all about, 
and that is what doesn't happen when he tries to ``go it alone.'' There 
is danger in trying to go it alone when things are poorly thought out 
and rammed through without adequate legislation.
  But there is one area where that President can use that phone and pen 
he talked about. He could use that pen to sign the authorization for 
the Keystone XL Pipeline and connect the pipeline to Canadian oil 
reserves that would extend from Canada all the way through the United 
States down to Port Arthur, TX, into what we call the Golden Triangle, 
where we have a lot of refineries that would turn that crude oil into 
jet fuel and gasoline. In the process a lot of jobs would be created.

  For those of my friends who say: Oh my gosh, we can't build another 
pipeline, I would invite them to go on Google or Bing or any other 
search engine and just type in oil and gas pipelines and see what they 
get. You will be astonished at the number of pipelines that crisscross 
this country and that safely transmit their product without our even 
knowing about it, by and large.
  I realize occasionally there are accidents, and those are to be 
deplored and regretted, and we should try to prevent those. But the 
idea should not be to cut our nose off to spite our face and deny 
ourselves this safe source of energy from a friendly country such as 
Canada, so we don't have to get it from dangerous volatile regions of 
the world and also take with it the jobs that are created as a result 
of this great renaissance in American and North American energy.
  So I would say to the President, in conclusion, after listening to 
him last night, and really trying to listen to his words: Look at the 
States that actually are the successful laboratories of democracy. That 
is the phrase Louis Brandeis coined. That is the great thing about our 
Federal system, where we have 50 States that are sovereign. They 
conduct their own business, subject to those matters that are delegated 
to the Federal Government under the Constitution. But the States are a 
great place to see what works and what doesn't work. I might add that 
the two lowest unemployment rates in the United States are Bismark, ND, 
and Midland, TX, and not unrelated to the shale gas renaissance I 
mentioned a moment ago.
  We should look at what works, from the Tax Code--making it less 
burdensome, more logical and more conducive to economic growth--to how 
we address the unkept promises of things such as ObamaCare, which has 
created uncertainty, increased cost, and caused a lot of disruption in 
the lives of Americans, and replacing it with patient-centered reforms 
that actually reduce the cost, expand quality coverage, and improve 
access to care.
  I believe that is the kind of debate we should be having, and that is 
the type of agenda the American people are asking for and the type of 
agenda they deserve.
  Mr. President, I yield floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Minnesota.
  Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Mr. President, I come to the floor of the Senate today 
to speak on the importance of passing the Homeowner Flood Insurance 
Affordability Act. I am a cosponsor of this legislation because without 
it millions of homeowners across the country will see significant 
increases in their flood insurance premiums.
  Homeowner insurance protects a family's investments from damages and 
losses that come as a result of accidents or tornadoes or burglaries, 
but that same homeowner policy, as we all know, does not cover damage 
resulting from floods. Sadly, too many Americans learn of this gap in 
their policy after it is too late.
  In recognition of this major gap in coverage, Congress created the 
National Flood Insurance Program in 1968 to give homeowners and 
businesses protection in the event of a flood, and this program has 
helped them to protect their property, their families, and their 
livelihoods.

[[Page S585]]

  All regions of America are susceptible to flooding. We see it with 
seasonal rains, hurricanes, and thunderstorms, and it is a powerful 
force of nature we cannot escape. When you have flood insurance, you 
have the peace of mind that the tools to help you rebuild will be there 
for you. For Minnesotans who live in areas susceptible to flooding, the 
flood insurance program is absolutely vital.
  Each spring in northwestern Minnesota, we know the Red River of the 
North will top its banks and the flood waters will threaten Moorhead, 
MN, and Fargo, ND. Leading up to the flood event last spring, I visited 
the region twice to watch the flood preparations, to urge on our 
volunteers, and to ensure the residents were receiving the Federal 
assistance and cooperation they needed. Just as I have seen each and 
every year since 2007, I saw once again how hard friends and neighbors 
work to prepare for the potential flood.
  These people aren't idly sitting by. In fact, I would bet that if 
towns and other areas of the country saw the kind of floods these folks 
have faced in certain years of the last decade, I am not sure they 
would have been saved. In this case, the residents of Moorhead and 
Fargo incessantly would create sandbags. They have huge warehouses 
filled with volunteers. Everyone from teenagers to seniors to inmates 
would be stuffing those bags full of sand. Residents fought heroically 
to save not only their homes but their businesses and their families.
  Across the Red River, we always say the rising river doesn't divide 
the two States of Minnesota and North Dakota, it unites us. This is not 
the first time the Red River has risen, and it certainly won't be the 
last. As honorable, tireless, and commendable as these efforts are, 
homeowners can't do it alone, and they deserve our help. That is why we 
need a National Flood Insurance Program that offers affordable premiums 
for homeowners who are trying to do the right thing.
  I would say that on the Minnesota side, many homeowners have 
relocated--dozens and dozens. In fact, across our State, hundreds of 
houses have literally been moved or been destroyed because they are too 
close to flooded areas, but still the need for flood insurance remains.
  So what are these people seeing? FEMA is increasing premiums to 
levels that do not fairly reflect the risks associated with the flood 
coverage that is being provided, and the consequences of these 
increases can't be understated. There are 1.1 million homes and 
businesses across the country that were built before FEMA published a 
flood map of their community, and now they might not be able to sell 
their property. Another 2.9 million homes and business owners across 
the country who have followed the rules but were remapped into a 
higher-risk area are now seeing significant spikes in their premiums.
  Rate increases are not just numbers. They can have a substantial 
impact on real families and even price them out of their homes. Sharp 
increases in premiums are devastating for a place such as Roseau, MN, 
where 75 percent of the homes are located in the floodplain. One Roseau 
resident who recently wanted to purchase flood insurance for a home 
valued at $75,000, was shocked with the changes in the premiums. This 
individual's new annual policy would cost $3,726, not the $985 it had 
been previously. That is nearly four times as much, and that is sticker 
shock. When calculated for 30 years, the length of a typical home loan, 
the flood policy on that $75,000 home would cost more than $110,000--
more than the value of the home itself.
  Crookston, MN, residents are similarly seeing premiums they can't 
afford. One resident, who recently purchased a home for around 
$100,000, was stunned to learn his annual flood insurance program would 
be $5,800, not the $800 he had anticipated based on the past.
  This isn't the way the National Flood Insurance Program is supposed 
to work. Our National Flood Insurance Program should provide peace of 
mind, but, instead, these changes create a disincentive for families 
and businesses in flood-prone areas to do the right thing.
  Roseau recovered from a flood in 2002 that caused widespread damage 
and is working on permanent flood protection to reduce the flood stages 
in the city. Once complete, the project will include a restriction 
structure to the city from the 100-year regulatory flood plain and 
reduce future flood damages by nearly 86 percent.
  It makes no sense that FEMA would be pushing these premium increases 
on consumers before the congressionally required study on affordability 
has even begun. The bill the Senate is considering today, and which I 
support, supports these priorities. It stops the proposed rate 
increases until the affordability study is done and the flood maps 
being used are verified as being accurate. Only after all of this 
critical information is reviewed should FEMA move forward and consider 
the cost of premiums that encourage participation in the flood 
insurance program while ensuring its long-term stability.
  The National Flood Insurance Program has given protection to 
homeowners and businesses from catastrophic flood losses for more than 
45 years. We shouldn't hit them now with an outrageous premium 
increase.
  I commend Senators Menendez, Isakson, and Landrieu on their great 
work on this legislation and urge my colleagues to support it.


                             The Farm Bill

  Now, Mr. President, I would like to discuss another critical priority 
for my home State of Minnesota, and that is the farm bill.
  I rise today to speak in support of the farm bill conference 
agreement. I was a member of the conference committee. This bill is 
good for farmers, it is good for rural economies, and it is good for 
taxpayers, which the House recognized earlier today when they voted to 
pass the farm bill by a strong vote of 251 to 166. Now it is the 
Senate's turn to pass this critical legislation and get it to the 
President's desk as soon as possible.
  I thank Chairwoman Stabenow for her determination to get us to this 
point. She has been tireless in her advocacy for America's farmers and 
ranchers and has made it a priority to work in a bipartisan way with 
Ranking Member Cochran to put together a farm bill that strengthens the 
safety net for our Nation's family farmers, ranchers, and preserves 
critical food and nutrition programs and brings down the deficit. 
Senator Stabenow couldn't have been a better partner in this effort, 
and the same goes for Senator Cochran. I greatly appreciate the 
expertise they both bring to agricultural policy, and I thank them for 
their leadership.
  I thank the ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, Collin 
Peterson. No one knows more about agriculture than Collin Peterson, who 
serves as a representative from my State. He has the longest district 
in the United States of America, stretching literally from the Canadian 
border nearly down to the Iowa border. I guess that is why he flies his 
own plane when he visits the towns. There is no other way to visit many 
places in one day. It has been a privilege for me to work with 
Congressman Peterson on this issue. It is the second farm bill we have 
worked on together.
  I also want to thank my other Congressman Tim Walz for his service on 
the conference committee. We worked hard to make sure this bill is 
strong for our country, for our State, and for the people of America.
  Farmers, ranchers, and rural communities in Minnesota have been 
waiting for this farm bill for more than 2 years. It is a good bill for 
our State, and it is a good bill for the country. It provides the 
certainty family farmers need to succeed and thrive, and that is why it 
has the strong support of both the National Farmers Union and the 
American Farm Bureau.
  That is not to say everyone got everything they wanted in this bill. 
Some concerns remain about potentially retaliatory actions regarding 
exports. As the Senator from the State that is first in turkey, second 
in pork, and sixth in agricultural exports, I will continue to work 
with the administration and producers to ensure our agricultural 
policies are implemented in a manner that avoids potential disruptions 
and ensures agricultural exports remain an American success story.
  As a member of the conference committee, I worked with colleagues on 
both sides of the aisle in the House and the Senate to build on the 
strong farm bill the Senate passed last year. In the

[[Page S586]]

conference report, we first of all eliminated direct payments and 
transitioned to crop insurance to help manage risk. We provided $880 
million in mandatory funding to promote homegrown energy. We maintained 
the successful sugar program that is so important to the sugar beet 
producers in the Red River Valley. We reduced the deficit by $23 
billion, making this an important bill for all Americans. We kept 
nutrition programs strong for Minnesota families. We provided permanent 
disaster relief for our Nation's livestock producers. We streamlined 
the conservation programs and still managed to come out with a 
proconservation bill that is supported by environmental and 
conservation groups across the country.
  I wanted to focus on the disaster provisions of the bill. The 
disaster provisions are all the more critical when we consider just how 
much our farmers and ranchers have been through recently--the worst 
drought since 1956, a devastating blizzard that killed thousands of 
cattle in my neighboring State of South Dakota, and a wet spring that 
led to a shortage of alfalfa that hurt beef and dairy producers in 
Minnesota.
  In this farm bill, we ensure that permanent disaster relief will be 
there for livestock producers that were left stranded when the farm 
bill expired last September. This assistance will be there for 
producers when they face the next disaster.
  The farm bill also includes an amendment that I led with Senators 
Hoeven and Heitkamp that addresses critical priorities by providing an 
additional $300 million. This came out of our committee in the Senate 
before we passed it in the Senate. This $300 million will boost 
agricultural research, address the backlog of water and wastewater 
projects, and support energy projects in rural areas.
  The amendment also supported funding for conservation projects that 
can help reduce flooding while protecting wildlife habitat.
  The farm bill authorizes a joint study by the U.S. Departments of 
Agriculture and Transportation to examine rural transportation issues, 
including captive shipping, something I pushed for--seeing what I am 
seeing with some of our producers, with our agricultural producers, 
with our manufacturers that are at the end of the line and are finding 
they don't have a lot of choice over what rail rates are for that last 
leg. They many times are being charged outrageously high rates, which 
makes it difficult for them to produce goods.
  Today families and farmers are facing a severe propane shortage in my 
State. I believe it is more important than ever that we understand the 
vulnerabilities and shortcomings of our transportation infrastructure 
so we can ensure that the fuels we need to keep our homes and barns 
warm are available and affordable.
  I fought to include each of these provisions because I believe that 
if we want to recruit a new generation of farmers and ranchers, then we 
must take action to improve the quality of life in rural communities. 
That is why I authored a number of the provisions specifically to 
recruit beginning farmers and ranchers.
  The first would reduce the cost of crop insurance for beginning 
farmers by 10 percent. The second would make it easier for beginning 
producers to graze livestock on Conservation Reserve Program acres.
  In this bill we put in place a new dairy program that helps dairy 
farmers in Minnesota and across the country who have struggled with low 
milk prices and high feed costs. We have probably seen that sector of 
the agriculture community hit harder than any other. Crops have had 
their droughts. We have seen wet springs that have hurt many of our 
farmers. We have seen the blizzard I mentioned in South Dakota which 
killed our cattle. We have seen trade barriers put up in other 
countries which shut down the markets. But I would still say the 
hardest hit of any sector of our agricultural economy in the last few 
years has been our dairy producers, specifically our small dairy 
producers. Anyone who has driven through the backroads of Minnesota or 
Wisconsin understands how important that is to our economy and our way 
of life.
  While this compromise wasn't exactly the deal we had reached in the 
Senate, it is still a strong deal. It still contains new protections 
for dairy farmers. I specifically thank Collin Peterson for his 
leadership in being the architect of this change, as well as the work 
in the Senate by specifically Senator Leahy and Senator Stabenow.
  The farm bill also streamlines conservation programs from 23 to 13, 
including the provisions I worked on to help communities in the Red 
River Valley address flooding. It extends conservation compliance rules 
to the Crop Insurance Program--something that came out of the Senate 
bill--and also includes the sodsaver provision that I worked on with 
Senator Thune in South Dakota for five or six States--really, the 
Prairie Pothole States. It protects native lands, native prairie, and 
helps to preserve our conservation efforts for hunting and for our way 
of life, particularly in the upper Midwest.
  These critical provisions, with the conservation compliance and our 
sodsaver amendment, are the reason the bill is supported by wildlife 
organizations including Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever, and 
environmental groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council and 
The Nature Conservancy.
  I believe we do right by ourselves when we work to strengthen the 
farms and rural communities which sustain us every day. Our prosperity 
depends on it, and this farm bill helps us to do just that. I urge my 
colleagues to support this very bipartisan farm bill.
  I yield the floor and I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. COONS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Brown). Without objection, it is so 
ordered.
  (The remarks of Mr. Coons pertaining to the introduction of S. 1973 
are printed in today's Record under ``Statements on Introduced Bills 
and Joint Resolutions.'')
  Mr. COONS. I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. BROWN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent the order for the 
quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Coons). Without objection, it is so 
ordered.


                       State of the Union Address

  Mr. BROWN. Mr. President, yesterday at the State of the Union Address 
by the President, I asked to join me--each Member of the Senate gets a 
pass, a gallery pass for a spouse or constituent or someone--I asked 
Elizabeth Dandridge, a Head Start teacher from Cincinnati, to join me 
and she sat in the gallery--the first time she had actually been in the 
Capitol. She taught at Head Start for 10 years.
  Mrs. Dandridge isn't paid a lot of money. Unfortunately, we don't pay 
Head Start teachers and Head Start teaching assistants a whole lot more 
than minimum wage. It is important that people understand that there 
are a number of low-wage workers in this country.
  There is one thing I want to say before I yield to Senator Sessions. 
One of the reasons to increase the minimum wage is that it matters so 
much to those families who work so hard and get so little for it. 
President Obama said no one who works full time in this country should 
live in poverty, and he is absolutely right.
  The lesson of history is that 100 years ago this month Henry Ford 
made an announcement that he would pay every one of his workers--from 
the sweeper of the factory floor to the worker who assembles the 
autos--$5 a day. A lot of his business friends were outraged. They 
couldn't believe he was doing this. He wasn't necessarily doing it out 
of the goodness of his heart. I certainly don't know his heart. It was 
a good business decision.
  He knew that if he would put $5 a day into his workers' pockets, they 
would begin to spend that money, it would create more prosperity for 
the community, a number of those workers might be able to buy cars that 
Ford assembled, and we would all be better off. That is really what the 
minimum wage debate is about. It is not only about increasing the 
minimum wage for those

[[Page S587]]

hundreds of thousands of families in my State who work at such low-
income levels. It is also going to help the economy in the State of 
Delaware, the State of Alabama, and the State of Ohio.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alabama.
  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, the flood insurance program is important 
to a lot of Americans. It is important for my constituents in Alabama, 
and they are concerned about it. The reform that has been passed into 
law is fundamentally the right approach to fixing the difficulties that 
we have, in my opinion. It moves this program from a big subsidy to a 
program that is actuarially sound and self-sustaining. I think that is 
the appropriate goal.
  I think at some point a person living in the interior of the United 
States should not be required to have money extracted from him or her 
or from their family to pay for somebody who built their house on 
shifting sands on a beach somewhere. That is my view of it. There are 
people who might find themselves unexpectedly in a dangerous 
circumstance where floods may occur rapidly or may not occur for 
decades.
  In my hometown of Mobile, a number of years ago they had a big flood 
problem. A lot of homes were damaged. They said it was the 100-year 
flood, and there was a lot of concern for everybody. I think a lot of 
people didn't have flood insurance. The next year it flooded again so 
they had two 100-year floods in two consecutive years. I say that 
because it is very difficult to manage a program like this in a sound 
way and to fully anticipate all of the dangers.
  What I am hearing from my constituents is that premiums are going up 
rapidly--very high for some people. It has gone up multiple times from 
what the present premiums are currently. There is little time to 
protest or get a clear review of it, and they think this ought to be 
more thoughtfully done and phased in in a more effective way.
  I tend to believe that, but I do not intend to support legislation 
that would fundamentally undo, reverse or retreat from the principle 
that was established when we passed legislation in 2012 that provided 
for the sustainability of this government program--the Flood Insurance 
Program. I think that is the right principle. It doesn't have to be 
done overnight. But, it does have to be done more carefully. It doesn't 
need to be done in a way that hard-working Americans who are struggling 
to get by find their flood insurance premiums--which they must have 
before they can get a loan to buy a house in a flood-prone area--
doubles, triples or quadruples, and it can be virtually as much as 
their house payment. This is the problem we are facing.
  My colleague Senator Coburn has raised a budget point of order 
against the legislation, and I think the budget point of order is well 
taken. The chairman of the Budget Committee, Senator Patty Murray, and 
her staff, have agreed that the legislation violates the budget, and I, 
as the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee, certainly agree with 
that.
  There are two aspects of the budget point of order. Maybe I can 
summarize it. There is probably more to it than this, but in essence we 
can say two things about it. One, the bill spends more than the Banking 
Committee was authorized to spend; that creates a violation of the 
budget in itself. The other violation is that the underlying bill adds 
to the debt. It spends more money than we have, and the result would be 
to add to the debt of the United States.
  What the bill's supporters have done is come before the Presiding 
Officer and moved to waive all budget violations. They say this 
legislation is so important that we should just waive the violations 
and not worry about it. I believe we need to worry about the budget, 
and we need to think about it. There may be occasions when the budget 
point of order should be waived when we go forward, and there will be 
points in time when it should not be waived.
  My view is that we should not waive all budget points of order. I do 
not believe that is the appropriate vote at this time. We imposed a 
budget. We promised to limit spending to certain amounts, and we should 
stay within that and not add to the debt. I feel strongly that we ought 
to adhere to the budget and not go around waiving it any time somebody 
wants to spend more money and thereby weaken the commitment we made to 
the American people when we established certain limits on spending.
  Both Houses of Congress have adopted it, and we passed it by law. The 
President signed the legislation that sets spending limits. This bill 
violates those limits.
  I have given thought to this, and maybe good people will disagree. 
This is my view of it. We should not spend more on the flood insurance 
program than was projected and agreed to and add to the debt of the 
United States of America. We absolutely should not do that.
  We should not reduce the constraints we placed on the Federal flood 
program so we can spend more money and then borrow the money to pay for 
that extra cost. That is not what we should do. This budget point of 
order would allow that to happen. The motion to waive the budget 
objection raised by Senator Coburn--waiving that and all objections to 
the bill would waive that.
  There appears to be a second violation, and that violation is that it 
spends more than the Banking Committee was authorized to spend. I think 
that is a somewhat different issue. Some might disagree under these 
circumstances. I think that aspect of a budget point of order could be 
waived, and this is why. Under the law adopted by this body in 2012, 
the flood insurance program is to be moved to a fully self-sustaining 
actuarially sound program where all the premiums that come in are 
sufficient to pay all of the claims that go out--like any other 
insurance company in America tries to operate. That is the principle 
that Congress--both Houses--established when they passed the reform in 
2012.
  I don't think it is necessarily to be considered a tax increase or a 
violation of the budget if this insurance program, which is part of the 
Banking Committee's jurisdiction, results in increased premiums to 
ensure that the program, while it is transitioning, remains sound and 
is ultimately paid for. I think that is the kind of waiver that may be 
justified.
  I am really impressed with Senator Toomey and how hard he has worked 
on his legislation to create an alternative to the base legislation 
that is before us today, which I don't think can be justified because 
it adds to the debt of the United States. We don't need to add to the 
debt. Every time somebody has a problem and then proposes a solution, 
the tendency is to not find reductions in spending somewhere to fix the 
problem that they have. They look around and see if they can just 
borrow the money and not pay for the extension.
  I support Senator Toomey's approach to solving this problem. I mean, 
his amendment would require a surcharge on all new NFIP policies, but 
it would not add to the debt because the additional spending is paid 
for by the surcharges that are in turn paid for by NFIP policy 
beneficiaries. It is not taxing the American citizens to subsidize a 
group of people who have flood insurance when the general citizenry 
does not have flood insurance.
  It is an increased fee on the people who benefit from flood insurance 
in the short term to transition this flood insurance program to the 
more rigorous self-sustaining program from the one that is not self-
sustaining or is rather draconian in the way it is being implemented.
  I think Senator Toomey's legislation may not be perfect, but I 
believe his legislation is actuarially sound. It raises sufficient 
revenue from the people who benefit from the flood insurance program to 
transition in a more gentle and logical and reasonable way to the new 
program. It would transition it in an effective way.
  It does not--according to the people who really understand this--
threaten the integrity of the reforms that have been voted into law.
  I think a good case can be made that the base legislation before us 
today violates several budget points of order and is drafted in a way 
that threatens the very integrity of the reforms we approved in 2012. 
We should not do that. We should not weaken the commitment we made as a 
Congress in any way that would lead us in a situation in which we don't 
follow through on the commitment we had to make sure that flood 
insurance becomes actuarially sound and self-sufficient.

[[Page S588]]

  For what it is worth, I will share with my colleagues my belief that 
we should not waive all budget points of order, although there may be a 
possibility that we can waive the budget point of order with regard to 
the spending limit because, should we adopt the Toomey amendment, the 
flood insurance program's indebtedness would be alleviated by placing a 
fee on the insurance policies which benefit the very people who receive 
the flood insurance subsidies.
  I appreciate my colleagues Senator Menendez and others who are 
striving to alleviate some of the harsh results of the transition of 
the current law, but I think their proposal runs a risk of abandoning 
the commitments that we made, and I believe their plan would add to the 
debt.
  I think the Toomey amendment would be the preferable way for us to 
meet the problems of this very rough transition period we are in 
without adding to the debt and without threatening to abandon the good 
goal of an actuarially sound flood insurance program.
  I yield the floor.


                              lower rates

  Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, the State of Michigan has traditionally 
been a donor State with regard to the National Flood Insurance Program. 
Over the life of the program, Michigan residents have paid far more in 
premiums than they have received in benefits. It was my understanding 
that the flood insurance reform measure that was passed last year was 
designed to make the program more appropriately reflect the true flood 
risks for insured properties. With the phaseout of subsidies for some 
high-risk properties, many Michigan residents expected last year's 
reforms to lead to a better balance between donor and recipient States 
and potentially lower rates for Michigan residents whose properties are 
lower risk.
  I ask, is it correct that the bill before us, S. 1926, if passed, 
would not prevent rates from decreasing if that rate would have 
decreased under current law?
  Mr. MENENDEZ. Yes, the Senator is correct. This bill will freeze the 
eligibility for some subsidized properties that are required, under 
current law, to move to risk-based rates. But freezing the eligibility 
for some properties will not prevent any property owner from obtaining 
an elevation certificate and having their rate lowered to account for a 
lower risk reflected in the elevation certificate.
  Mr. LEVIN. Thank you for your assurances.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Brown). Under the previous order, the 
question is on agreeing to the motion to waive.
  The yeas and nays were previously ordered.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk called the roll.
  Mr. CORNYN. The following Senator is necessarily absent: The Senator 
from Indiana (Mr. Coats).
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Blumenthal). Are there any other Senators 
in the Chamber desiring to vote?
  The yeas and nays resulted--yeas 64, nays 35, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 15 Leg.]

                                YEAS--64

     Baldwin
     Baucus
     Begich
     Bennet
     Blumenthal
     Blunt
     Booker
     Boxer
     Brown
     Cantwell
     Cardin
     Carper
     Casey
     Cochran
     Collins
     Coons
     Donnelly
     Durbin
     Feinstein
     Franken
     Gillibrand
     Hagan
     Harkin
     Heinrich
     Heitkamp
     Hirono
     Hoeven
     Isakson
     Johnson (SD)
     Kaine
     King
     Klobuchar
     Landrieu
     Leahy
     Levin
     Manchin
     Markey
     McCaskill
     Menendez
     Merkley
     Mikulski
     Murkowski
     Murphy
     Murray
     Nelson
     Pryor
     Reed
     Reid
     Rockefeller
     Sanders
     Schatz
     Schumer
     Scott
     Shaheen
     Stabenow
     Tester
     Udall (CO)
     Udall (NM)
     Vitter
     Warner
     Warren
     Whitehouse
     Wicker
     Wyden

                                NAYS--35

     Alexander
     Ayotte
     Barrasso
     Boozman
     Burr
     Chambliss
     Coburn
     Corker
     Cornyn
     Crapo
     Cruz
     Enzi
     Fischer
     Flake
     Graham
     Grassley
     Hatch
     Heller
     Inhofe
     Johanns
     Johnson (WI)
     Kirk
     Lee
     McCain
     McConnell
     Moran
     Paul
     Portman
     Risch
     Roberts
     Rubio
     Sessions
     Shelby
     Thune
     Toomey

                             NOT VOTING--1

       
     Coats
       
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. On this vote, the yeas are 64, the nays are 
35. Three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn having voted in 
the affirmative, the motion to waive is agreed to.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, we are going to have three more votes 
tonight. I understand they are going to be voice votes. We have made 
significant progress with this important piece of legislation. The next 
vote will be at 11:15 tomorrow. We expect to have the final vote on 
this bill tomorrow at 2 o'clock.


                       Vote on Amendment No. 2703

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. There is now 2 minutes equally divided on 
amendment No. 2703 offered by the Senator from Rhode Island, Mr. Reed.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I understand pending amendment is the Reed 
amendment. I also understand it will be accepted by voice vote. I yield 
back my time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there further debate?
  If not, the question is on agreeing to the amendment.
  The amendment (No. 2703) was agreed to.
  Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, I move to reconsider the vote and to lay 
that motion on the table.
  The motion to lay on the table was agreed to.


                       Vote on Amendment No. 2706

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. There is now 2 minutes equally divided on 
amendment No. 2706 offered by the Senator from Rhode Island, Mr. 
Whitehouse.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I hope my colleagues will vote 
enthusiastically for this amendment. Across the country, communities 
and local organizations are trying to revive rivers that have been 
dammed and blocked. When they go forward to remove a dam, when they go 
forward to put in a fish ladder, when they redesign a culvert to allow 
for water passage, they have to file a flood plan.
  FEMA requires them to pay a fee to have that flood plan assessed. The 
fee is almost always waived. But they still have to go through the 
waiver process, which costs money and frankly can be as burdensome as 
simply paying the fee. This eliminates that fee. It eliminates that 
part of the process and allows towns and small organizations more 
readily to come to the aid of our old small rivers.
  I think this is something we should be able to agree on with great 
strength. It is noncontroversial. I urge my colleagues to vote yea.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there further debate? If not, the question 
is on agreeing to the amendment.
  The amendment (No. 2706) was agreed to.
  Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, I move to reconsider the vote and to lay 
that motion on the table.
  The motion to lay on the table was agreed to.
  Mrs. GILLIBRAND. Mr. President, I call up my amendment.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The amendment is pending.


                       Vote on Amendment No. 2708

  Mrs. GILLIBRAND. Mr. President, my amendment is very simple and 
common sense. Many homeowners who live across the United States live in 
homes that simply cannot be elevated in order to protect or reduce 
flood risk because of their inherent structure. This is a problem that 
is true for cities in New York, cities in New Jersey. In reality, if 
you live in a brownstone or you live in an apartment building, you 
cannot raise them to protect against flood damage.
  To fix this problem, all my amendment does is require FEMA to provide 
a uniform set of guidelines describing FEMA-approved methods of 
mitigation such as flood-proofing or using flood-proof building 
materials to help those homeowners reduce their risk of flood damage. 
For example, do not leave computers and electrical equipment in your 
basement. Bring them to the first and second floor.
  Those kind of simple flood mitigation changes can easily save 
enormous amounts of money and the risk of flood damage from flooding. 
The amendment also requires FEMA to consider any actions taken by 
homeowners to implement the methods identified in those

[[Page S589]]

guidelines when calculating flood insurance premium risk rates. By 
providing a clear set of mitigation guidance for homeowners, this 
amendment will help homeowners with more options to reduce their flood 
risk.
  I urge my colleagues to support this amendment. I believe it is 
noncontroversial.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there further debate?
  If not, the question is on agreeing to the amendment.
  The amendment (No. 2708) was agreed to.
  Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, I move to reconsider and move to lay 
that motion on the table.
  The motion to lay on the table was agreed to.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Louisiana.
  Ms. LANDRIEU. Mr. President, I know we are scheduled to take the 
final votes on this bill tomorrow morning and final passage at 2. I 
just wish to thank all of the colleagues who were so cooperative today 
discussing and moving through these amendments. I appreciate the 
cooperation--bipartisan cooperation, open debate process. I think it 
has been very helpful. I think we are building a better flood insurance 
program for the country, which is our aim.
  I thank Senator Menendez and Senator Isakson for their leadership 
today.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak for 
15 minutes as in morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                             Climate Change

  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, this is the 56th time, the 56th 
consecutive week that we have been in session in the Senate that I have 
come to the floor to sound an alarm about carbon pollution and the harm 
it is causing to our oceans and to our coastal communities--the 56th 
time. Frankly, I am getting a little sick of it. I am getting sick of 
the Republican Party being completely the tool of the polluters. I am 
sick of the phony denial and of not getting anything done. I am sick of 
what it is going to say about American democracy if we keep failing at 
this.
  But I am going to keep pounding away because it is so vital to my 
ocean State. We are a little State with a lot of coast. Our sea level 
is rising, driven by faraway melting glaciers and everywhere expanding 
sea water. As oceans warm, the water expands. That is what liquids do. 
Deniers look up thermal expansion of liquids and deny that.
  The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report 
projected that sea level will likely rise 1\1/2\ to 3 feet by 2100 if 
we do what the polluters prefer and ignore the clear scientific 
evidence. By the way, that is a conservative number.
  These rising sea levels hit coasts hard, particularly when storms 
beat those seas against our shores. It is not just me saying that, we 
are supposed to listen to the nonpartisan Government Accountability 
Office around here. A 2013 GAO report on climate change effects said 
this:

       Storm surge, combined with sea level rise, is projected to 
     generate a wide range of negative impacts on roads and 
     bridges. For example, storm surges are projected to 
     increasingly inundate coastal roads, cause more frequent or 
     severe flooding of low lying infrastructure, erode road 
     bases, and ``scour'' bridges by eroding riverbeds and 
     exposing bridge foundations.

  People from polluting States may think that is funny, may think that 
does not matter, but to a coastal State such as mine this is a serious 
threat. This chart shows the worldwide measured change in sea level. 
This is not some theory--measured change in sea level--as well as a 
number of different models projecting future sea levels.
  We can see that sea level has been steadily rising over the past 130 
years, generally consistent with human fossil fuel use. Between 1901 
and 2010, sea level rise was estimated at 1.7 millimeters per year. 
Recently updated satellite measurements from the University of Colorado 
Sea Level Research Group show a rise of 3.2 millimeters per year from 
1993 to 2013.
  The rate of increase has already nearly doubled. According to the 
IPCC, that rate is likely to accelerate. In Rhode Island, our tide 
gauge in Newport shows an increase in average sea level of nearly 10 
inches since 1930. Consistent with the global trends, measurements at 
our Newport tide gauge show that the rate of sea level rise has also 
increased in the past two decades.
  Local coastal erosion rates have doubled from 1990 to 2006, and some 
freshwater coastal wetlands are already transitioning to salt marsh 
from freshwater as they are inundated by the sea.
  Our Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council has documented 
160 feet of shoreline lost to erosion in the town of South Kingstown 
since 1951, a rate of 3 feet per year. A steady 3 feet per year is one 
thing, add a storm and surges can wipe up whole swaths of land at once, 
as we saw with Superstorm Sandy.
  We can see the erosion here. Back in 1994, this beach pavilion was 
set back a good way from the water. By 2012, here, the ocean was just a 
few feet from the structure. This is the roof that is here. This is the 
framing that is here. This is the very beginning of this walkway back 
here. There is the ocean. The ocean has moved from here essentially to 
there. Roads and other infrastructure that were once a safe distance 
from the shoreline were also battered by this terrible storm surge and 
wind.
  The small, vibrant coastal town of Matunuck, RI, is under siege from 
the advancing ocean. This chart shows how far the shoreline has shifted 
since 1951. Here is the 1951 shoreline. This is the 2012 photo, showing 
how much the sea has risen and eaten against the shores. In the last 
dozen years, beaches have eroded 20 feet.
  The community now faces difficult decisions. The only road connecting 
Matunuck to neighboring towns is protected by only about 10 feet of 
sand now. The road provides access for emergency vehicles residents may 
need. Underneath it lies their water main. If carbon dioxide emissions 
continue unchecked, another 5 feet of projected sea level rise is a 
real possibility after the year 2100.
  Matunuck's projected coastline with 5 feet of sea level rise can be 
seen in red. These are all houses. This is Roy Carpenter's Beach. These 
houses have been here in some cases for generations and they are 
tumbling into the sea as the ocean encroaches on them.
  This is famous Newport Harbor. In Newport, 5 feet of sea level rise 
would inundate large portions of our vibrant downtown area, including 
America's Cup Avenue, right here; including the Long Wharf Shopping 
Center, which would be about here; and including the famous and 
historic Cardines Field, a great old baseball field.
  Goat Island will be only a few specks of land. This is what 3 feet of 
sea-level rise would look like in Newport. Perrotti Park is gone. The 
Ann Street Pier is gone, not to mention the Newport Harbor Master's 
office. He will be a lot closer to the harbor when it is pouring 
through his windows than he is right now. Wherever Rhode Island meets 
the sea, our homes, communities, and our very economy are at stake.
  Yet in Congress we sleepwalk, lulled by the narcotic influence of the 
polluting special interests. No wonder I am frustrated.
  When my colleagues say they are worried about job loss in the 
polluting coal and oil industries, I am willing to listen. I am even 
willing to help, but I am not willing to stand by while this is 
happening in my home State and have us pretend it is not even real.
  Rhode Island, of course, is not the only region experiencing sea-
level rise, coastal erosion, and economic disruption. Rising seas 
concern coastal regions across the country. With over 1,000 miles of 
coastline, Florida is at grave risk from sea-level rise.
  According to the World Resources Institute and an article published 
in ``Environmental Research Letters,'' of all the people and housing in 
America threatened by sea-level rise, 40 percent is in Florida. That is 
because in Florida the flooding won't just be along the coast; low-
lying inland areas are also at risk. That is because Florida is built 
on porous limestone.
  In New England, on our rocky shores, we could perhaps build levees 
and dams in some places to hold the oceans back. In Miami, they would 
be building those structures on geological sponge. The water will seep 
right under. Using the best available science, the Southeast

[[Page S590]]

Florida Regional Climate Change Compact assessed the risk to four south 
Florida counties of sea-level rise. In those counties, 1 foot of sea-
level rise would endanger approximately $4 billion in property. In 
Monroe County, three of the four hospitals, two-thirds of the schools, 
and 71 percent of emergency shelters are endangered by a 1-foot sea-
level rise.
  Go to 3 feet of sea-level rise in these counties. That would endanger 
approximately $31 billion worth of property. That is a lot of 
infrastructure at risk.
  This map shows 3 feet of sea-level rise in Miami-Dade County. The map 
on the left shows current elevation in southern Miami-Dade compared to 
3 feet of sea-level rise on the right. These blue regions go 
underwater. They have lost acres upon acres of that city.
  This nuclear power station, Turkey Point, and this sewage treatment 
plant are virtually cut off from dry land. Yet what do we hear from our 
Republican colleague from Florida? Denial, right along the polluter 
party line.
  Louisiana is teed up for the worst storm surge by the warming, rising 
waters of the Gulf of Mexico. According to a U.S. Geological Survey-led 
study, between 1985 and 2010, Louisiana lost a football field an hour 
of land and wetlands to coastal erosion.
  A recent poll shows that Louisiana voters understand and want action 
on climate change. Seventy-two percent of Louisianans believe climate 
change is a serious problem that threatens everyone. It is hitting 
their lives and yet our Republican colleague from Louisiana offers 
streams of denial.
  The State with the most coastline is Alaska. Another U.S. Geological 
Survey study shows that coastal erosion of a 40-mile stretch along the 
Beaufort Sea has climbed from 20 feet per year between the mid-fifties 
and late seventies to 28 feet per year between the late seventies and 
two thousands and now has doubled to more than 45 feet per year between 
2002 and 2007.
  Climate change is one of several factors at play and is contributing 
to this accelerating loss.
  Earlier this month our Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change, which 
I lead with Chairman Waxman, welcomed Alaskans from the town of 
Shishmaref, an Inupiat Eskimo village located on a small barrier island 
5 miles from mainland Alaska, to hear from them how climate change is 
affecting their homes. Their houses are literally falling into the sea 
thanks to sea-level rise and coastal erosion. Their centuries-old 
culture is crumbling away with each wave. This is a house in 
Shishmaref. This is a house at Roy Carpenter's Beach in Rhode Island. 
We can see how we sympathize with the town of Shishmaref.
  In Alaska, Shishmaref is not alone. A recent GAO report showed that 
31 Alaskan villages are at risk. The 12 red dots shown are villages 
that are now considering relocating completely. According to the U.S. 
Corps of Engineers, relocation costs are estimated at $100 million to 
$200 million for Shishmaref, and other villages could face similar 
costs.
  Stanley Tocktoo is the former mayor of Shishmaref. He came to our 
hearing and said:

       No matter your politics, you can't ignore the facts. The 
     facts are that our village is being impacted by climate 
     change on a daily basis. And we need you to do something 
     about it.

  He said:

       No matter your politics, you can't ignore facts.

  The painful truth, Mayor Tocktoo, is that in Congress, if you have 
certain politics, you are actually obliged to ignore the facts. You are 
required to ignore the facts. Your big-money people--the big polluters, 
the Koch brothers--insist on it. They demand that you ignore the facts.
  Citizens United, that God-awful Supreme Court decision, means that 
the big polluters' big money can drown out in elections--particularly 
in Republican primary elections--every reasonable person, Republican, 
Independent, or Democrat, who understands that we need to act. The 
party on the other side is stuck, trapped by the campaign finance rules 
and the big money of the big polluters.
  We could, in Congress, be awake, helping and meeting the call of 
duty. We could be working with the President to implement his climate 
action plan.
  The Environment and Public Works Committee, under the strong 
leadership of Chairman Barbara Boxer, recently held an oversight 
hearing on the President's climate action plan. What did we get in that 
hearing from our Republican colleagues? Denial, quarreling, and 
obfuscation--the polluter party line.
  They actually brought in, as a Republican witness, a person whose 
organization took money from the Koch brothers, Exxon, and from other 
far-right and denier foundations, including the notorious Donors Trust 
and Donors Capital Fund, which launders money from big donors who want 
to remain anonymous.
  If people have not heard of this Donors Trust and Donors Capital 
group, a recent report out of Drexel University described this group as 
the ``black box that conceals the identity of contributors,'' the 
``central component,'' and ``dominant funder'' of the denier apparatus. 
This was who they chose as their witness.
  We could, in Congress, be figuring out how a carbon pollution fee--
one that returns all of its proceeds back to the American people--could 
best boost our economy, as some prominent Republicans have suggested. 
But I sent a letter to my Republican colleagues summarizing the 
Republican case for a carbon fee and not one responded.
  The polluters have the Republican Party at their heels. It is a 
tragic state of affairs for a great political party.
  Carbon pollution from the burning of fossil fuels is altering the 
atmosphere and oceans. It is changing our climate. The scientific 
consensus around this fact is overwhelming. Denial at this point is 
propped-up polluter-paid nonsense. Where carbon pollution hits the 
oceans, denial requires people not only to reject science but to reject 
measurement. We measure sea-level rise. We measure ocean warming. We 
measure ocean acidification. It is not complicated. We measure sea-
level rise, more or less, with a yardstick. We measure ocean warming 
with a thermometer; we measure ocean acidification with simple litmus 
tests that everyone with an aquarium is familiar with.
  Yet despite that incontrovertible evidence from our oceans, we 
sleepwalk on in Congress, thanks to a great political party's captivity 
by polluters. It is a disgrace. It will go down in history as a 
disgrace.
  We could strengthen our economy, we could save our great coastal 
cities and our age-old island villages, and we can leave things better, 
not worse, for the generations that will follow us, but we have to pay 
attention to reality. We have to pay attention to the real evidence. We 
can't be swept up in the toxic polluter-paid politics that infect 
Washington.
  This matters immensely to Alaska. It matters immensely to the 
citizens of Shishmaref. It matters immensely to the residents of 
Florida who are looking at their cities; and it matters immensely to 
Rhode Island, the Ocean State, because the undeniable changes from sea-
level rise and warming are upon us and will only worsen. For once and 
for all, it is time for us to wake up.
  Mrs. BOXER. Would the Senator yield through the Chair for a colloquy?
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. I yield to the Senator.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from California.
  Mrs. BOXER. First I wish to say how proud I am to listen to the 
Senator's words, to have him on the committee I am so honored to chair.
  To learn today that the Senator made over 50----
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Fifty-six.
  Mrs. BOXER. Fifty-six presentations on the floor of the Senate, 
regardless of the hour, regardless of his other pressing needs, the 
Senator is making the record that we must act to prevent the worst and 
most catastrophic occurrences from climate change.
  I wish to ask of the Senator a few questions because we have gone 
through a lot of these battles in the committee, and I think it is time 
that people knew what happened. I am going to see if we can put 
something in the Record.
  The Senator pointed out putting a price on carbons as the way we need 
to move. The Senator also pointed out that many countries outside of 
the United States support it. Would the Senator please tell us, because 
he has mentioned this before, who are some of the leaders of the 
Republican Party?

[[Page S591]]

  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. One of the most prominent ones is George Shultz, who 
served with great distinction, I believe, under three Republican 
Presidents.
  Mrs. BOXER. True.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. I ran into him in the last 10 days and I said: Thank 
you for your work on carbon. It is important. He said: It is important. 
I said: We have to do a carbon fee. He said: Revenue neutral. I said: 
Yes, we have to do a revenue-neutral carbon fee.
  Revenue-neutral carbon fee means that the money that is generated by 
the polluters pays for the harm they do to do to all the rest of us, 
which they otherwise get away with for free, and it goes back to the 
American people. It is revenue neutral. It doesn't go into the 
government and raise the size of government. It goes right back. We 
could do it by lowering taxes, by paying off every student loan in the 
country. We could do it by giving seniors on Social Security a raise. 
What a good discussion that would be, to be having right here. But we 
can't have that discussion because the other party is trapped by the 
polluters--trapped in their politics, trapped by their money.

  Mrs. BOXER. The point I am making is the Senator points out one very 
prominent Republican, but there are many more. I remember when I 
started out in politics, I was a county supervisor. The environment was 
the one issue--one or two, the other one was a woman's right to choose. 
Those two issues were so bipartisan that we all came together. When we 
ran for county supervisor, we didn't have a label. We ran just as an 
independent person. But everyone backed the constitutionally protected 
right to choose and everyone backed cleaning up the environment.
  So the Senator has described what has happened and he has used some 
very colorful language from time to time, but I thought one of the 
things he recently said--and I want to make sure I quote it right--is 
that it is like this Capitol is surrounded by the lies of the polluters 
and we can't get the truth into this Chamber.
  The Senator actually says it better.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. They have erected a barricade of lies, Madam 
Chairman. They have erected a barricade of lies, and it is supported by 
an avalanche of money. If you go outside that barricade, you see 
enormous support for getting something done about climate.
  Just to give the example of our corporate community--Coke and Pepsi, 
the Mars corporation, which makes M and Mars bars, Ford and GM, 
Apple, Nike, Walmart, on and on--we can go through the signal American 
corporations, the heraldry of the American corporate world, and they 
are ready to get something done. But there is enough money that gets 
thrown by the polluters and enough threats made by them in Republican 
primaries that our colleagues are trapped. Unless we build a coalition 
that gets them a way out, that barricade will continue to inhibit 
progress on this issue in this building.
  Mrs. BOXER. Right. The dilemma we face is the window to act is 
closing in on us. The Senator showed some extraordinary photos. One is 
up there now. We see that already climate change is creating climate 
refugees.
  There was a movie done called ``Climate Refugees,'' and it went out 
to the island nations of the world that many people never even knew 
existed. The folks there, because of the sea level change and the 
change in the weather and the fact that they can't grow the crops they 
used to and they can't rely on water, et cetera, have to be leaving 
their homes they have lived in for generations.
  What the Senator is saying is so sad and shocking. It looks to me as 
though he is having that in his own State.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. My colleague's point, that this used to be a 
bipartisan issue, is actually illustrated by this photograph. This is 
Roy Carpenter's Beach. It is a beach that got probably hit the hardest. 
There were some bigger, older houses that got washed away down the 
shore, but this has a lot of these smaller houses that families have 
held onto for generations. After Sandy, with the sea level rise and 
then the storm, together, they knocked them into the water this way.
  This individual right here is Lincoln Chafee. That is Governor 
Chafee. He served in this body as a Republican, and he was one of the 
staunchest environmentalists in this body. If you go back further, his 
father John Chafee served as the chairman of the Environment and Public 
Works Committee. He was one of my colleague's predecessors, and he 
helped lead the passage of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, a 
Republican, and he was proud of it. He didn't hide from it.
  It wasn't something the Republican Party had to run away from in 
those days. Try to find that in the modern Republican Party. It is 
embarrassing what has happened to a great political party.
  Mrs. BOXER. Senator Whitehouse raises the name of John Chafee and 
Lincoln Chafee. I was friendly with both of those Chafees, John being 
my chairman, a role model for me. I literally learned from him. Not 
only was he a leader on the environment, he was a leader on so many 
other issues: sensible gun laws--sensible gun laws.
  Something has happened to the Grand Old Party. Somebody once said 
maybe they are the formerly Grand Old Party. But I have hope they will 
return and be the Grand Old Party, because I was here when we had 
leadership on the other side for a climate bill. We fell just a few 
votes short. If we hadn't had a filibuster, we would have nailed it.
  Putting a price on carbon is the only way to go, and my colleague 
makes the case because there is a cost. What is the cost? We see it. 
This is the cost. Yet those who are putting this dangerous pollution in 
the air don't pay anything for it. As a matter of fact, they get 
subsidies still.
  The Senator and I sometimes talk offline here, and we say we are very 
calm when we speak here because we know we have to have a sense of 
decorum, but inside a lot of us are churning, because we love our 
children and we love our grandchildren and we love this Nation and we 
want to be leaders and we want our Nation to lead. Yet we are having a 
terrible time. We have a situation where 97 percent of scientists say 
climate change is happening and we know exactly why. It is human 
behavior.
  Our friend Angus King gave a remarkable presentation to the caucus 
the other day, making the point that Senator Whitehouse made, which is 
that this isn't conjecture, this is science. This is measurement. You 
measure it. You see it. You know what is happening. This isn't like 
when you are hit with a tragedy and you don't want to look at it; you 
lose somebody and you are in denial about it. We understand that, how 
the human mind would do that. But this is science, and it is very 
difficult.

  I wanted to ask a couple more questions. I am truly enjoying this 
colloquy. It reminds me of the old days when this used to happen more 
in the Senate.
  My friend mentioned the President's Climate Action Plan, and he 
talked a little bit about it yesterday. He said some very good 
important things about it. But I want to know if my friend is aware 
there has already been filed by the minority leader here, the 
Republican leader, a CRA--that is the Congressional Review Act--to 
overturn a rule that would in fact put in place some very important 
pollution controls on new powerplants.
  Does my friend, A, know he has filed this? Does my friend also know 
the rule isn't even finalized, yet the Republican leader has filed 
this? What does the Senator make of that?
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. If the underlying problem weren't so serious, it 
would be laughable that they are already challenging a rule that has 
not even been promulgated yet. They are sort of prechallenging it. It 
just shows what a pell-mell tumble our Republican colleagues will 
subject themselves to in order to keep in the good graces of the 
polluting industries. Again, it is embarrassing. It ought to be 
embarrassing.
  But I think there is hope. One of the signs of hope is the polling 
information among young Republican voters. Young Republican voters 
under the age of 35--not very young but young Republican voters under 
the age of 35--when asked about climate denial and asked what their 
view is of people who espouse climate denial say they think they are 
ignorant, out of touch or crazy. That is the young cohort of the 
Republican Party. That is what it believes.

[[Page S592]]

  So time, obviously, is on the side of reason and science and the 
plain evidence people see in front of their noses across this country, 
whether they are farmers, fishermen, hikers or skiers. Anybody who has 
contact with the outdoors understands this is absolutely real. It is 
only people in this little hot house of polluter-paid intrigue that the 
denial strategy still stands up, and it is our job to knock it back 
down.
  Mrs. BOXER. Absolutely. I think the other point the Senator made is 
tying this all to Citizens United and the fact that these polluters are 
only focused on this: They do not want competition. Let us be clear. 
These multinationals do not want competition. The fact is they see 
solar on the horizon, wind, geothermal, clean energy. They even see 
natural gas, which has, if it is done right, half of the carbon 
pollution, and they are holding on through this ride of the century. 
They will not work with us. It is more than sad.
  But I will say this in closing my remarks tonight. We have a new 
energy, if you will, in this body. We have more than 20 percent of this 
Senate that has formed together in our action task force that Senator 
Whitehouse and I are heading. We are going to take action. We are going 
to be heard. We are going to wake the Congress, which is what has to 
happen.
  I want to say to my friend how much it means to me--someone who felt 
pretty much isolated on these issues for a while--and how important it 
is that even though my colleague said--and I quote him--you were sick 
of coming down and speaking, I hope you will not get sick of it. I hope 
you will not get tired of it. I will predict, and the Senator knows I 
am right, a lot of us are going to be joining him pretty soon. So not 
only will my colleague's voice be heard but many other voices will be 
heard and that will echo around this Nation.
  There are so many issues we have to deal with. Lord knows, we so 
agree with the President on strengthening the middle class. We so agree 
that we need to confront the challenges of deficits and jobs and 
education and health care. By the way, from my State, that is going 
gang busters--the Affordable Care Act, ObamaCare. We are signing up 
thousands of people a day. It is moving the country forward. But with 
all these issues we have to deal with, we have to save the planet. We 
have to save the planet.
  I do have another question for my friend. Some of our colleagues say: 
Oh, you see this freezing cold and all the snow, this proves there is 
no climate change. There is no global warming. It is freezing. Of 
course, the scientists I talk to are telling me they predicted extreme 
weather. That is what they predicted.
  Look at what happened in poor Atlanta today, where there is this 
schoolbus that has been sitting out on the road, somebody said, from 4 
yesterday until 8 this morning. These people are stuck because of an 
unexpected icy snowfall. Here is the thing. It is called a vortex. The 
reason it happens, as explained to me by the scientists--and one of 
them just came onto the floor now--is that the jet stream has changed 
so much because of the warming in the Arctic so that instead of holding 
up that cold air in the Arctic, the cold air is turning around and 
coming back down, and we haven't seen that in a while.
  So you can't just say it is cold today, there is no climate change. 
If there is extreme weather--and we have it in California. We have a 
drought we have never, ever, ever seen. I went through the one in the 
1970s. I remember that, where we used the water in the tub to flush the 
toilets and we tried to recycle the water from our dishwashers and 
washing machines. But we have a worse situation, and it was predicted.
  So I wish to ask my friend, because he has done so much reading, is 
it not true this extreme weather was predicted in the U.N. reports and 
in many other reports?
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Absolutely. Indeed, years ago one expert in this area 
wrote that, in terms of the experience that people would have--yes, the 
planet is warming--but the experience that people would have wouldn't 
be just of warming. It would be of weirding weather--weird weather--and 
truly the better name would be not global warming, but it would be 
global weirding. That is because, very simply, when you add energy--
heat energy in this case--to a closed system by trapping it with more 
carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, you speed things up. You make storms 
stronger, you change weather patterns, and you see things that you have 
not seen before.
  So the things people are seeing now--not specifically and not that 
storm, but the patterns that people would see more extreme weather of 
various kinds--were indeed predicted. The fact that it is happening is 
exactly consistent with what the scientists have been warning us about.
  Mrs. BOXER. It is so because it was 7 years ago when I took the 
panel. I think it was 7 years ago that I took the gavel--I don't even 
remember; time goes so fast when you are having fun--I took that gavel 
and the first thing we did is we had a hearing on climate.
  By the way, I urge my colleague, you should see--we put together a 
Green Book of all of my colleagues' statements--how many Republicans 
were with us then. Olympia Snowe had a great piece in there. John 
McCain had a great piece in there. Judd Gregg had a great piece.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. John Warner.
  Mrs. BOXER. John Warner had a great piece in there, and others. It 
made me so proud.
  At that hearing we had all these experts talk about the fact that, 
over time, temperatures would go up. But in between, as you say, it is 
not a matter of the weather that day, but it is the pattern over time 
and what happens over time. You have these extremes but over time the 
warmth kicks in. We are seeing it happening. The American people are 
smart. They get it.
  We are just not going to let up. As calm as we sound now, that belies 
what we feel inside and the obligation that we have to act. I guess 
this is as good a time as any to tell the American people they will see 
more of us, and more colleagues will work on this.
  I thank Senator Reid because Senator Reid has elevated this issue in 
our caucus, devoting more time to this issue. He cares about this. He 
is a wonderful family man with a lot of grandchildren. He wants to give 
them what so many of us have had--the beauty of this country, the 
livability of this country. There will be more of this to follow.
  I ask my colleague if he wants to close, and I yield to him.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. I thank the chair for her staunch leadership. She is 
such an ally and leader for us. It really is very exciting, and, yes, 
you will see considerably more activity.
  I will close by telling one personal story because very often you are 
dealing with statistics, and you are dealing with figures, and you are 
dealing with things that are happening on a large scale when you talk 
about climate change.
  I remember this day. I remember this day, walking along and meeting 
with these homeowners whose houses these were. I remember talking to 
the lady whose house--I think this one was right here--the Governor is 
looking into.
  She remembers, as a child, being in that house. In front of this 
house she had a lawn, a lawn where they could throw Frisbees and play 
Wiffle ball.
  On the other side of the lawn was a road that gave access along the 
shoreline, a sand road. On the other side of the road was a parking lot 
where people would come and bring their cars, and on the other side of 
the parking lot was the beach that was so long down to the water, and 
she could remember running as a kid. You know, when the summer Sun 
beats down on the beach and the sand gets so hot that it hurts your 
feet, and you have to dash to get your feet into the water because they 
are hot, hot, hot as you run when you are a little kid? And she would 
make that long run and think what a long run it was to get down that 
hot sand and into the cool, clear waters of Narragansett Bay.
  That beach is gone. That parking lot is gone. That road is gone. Her 
lawn is gone, and this is what has happened to her house.
  If people want to know why we are not going to give up--yes, I am 
sick of it. I am sick of having to come here and do this. It is 
tiresome to have no progress and have people not listen and have it be 
because of, frankly, scandalous polluter-paid interference and 
influence in this building. Yes, I am

[[Page S593]]

sick of it. But I am not going to stop, not while this is happening to 
my home State of Rhode Island.
  I yield the floor.
  Mrs. BOXER. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the 
quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                  Unanimous Consent Agreement--S. 1926

  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that following 
leader remarks on Thursday, January 30, the Senate resume consideration 
of S. 1926, with the time until 11:15 a.m. equally divided between the 
two leaders or their designees, with the final 10 minutes equally 
divided between Senator Menendez or his designee, and Senator Toomey or 
his designee, with Senator Toomey controlling the final 5 minutes; that 
at 11:15 a.m., the Senate proceed to votes in relation to the following 
amendments: Toomey amendment No. 2707, as modified; Coburn amendment 
No. 2697; Merkley amendment No. 2709, as modified; and Heller amendment 
No. 2700; further, that upon disposition of the Heller amendment, the 
Senate recess until 2 p.m.; at 2 p.m. when the Senate reconvenes, the 
Senate proceed to vote on passage of the bill, as amended; finally, 
there be 2 minutes of debate prior to each vote, equally divided in the 
usual form; and that all after the first vote be 10-minute votes.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.

                          ____________________