FLOOD INSURANCE REFORM AND MODERNIZATION ACT OF 2007
(Senate - May 07, 2008)

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[Pages S3845-S3853]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




          FLOOD INSURANCE REFORM AND MODERNIZATION ACT OF 2007

  Mr. DODD. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that all postcloture 
time be deemed expired, the motion to proceed be agreed to, the motion 
to reconsider laid upon the table, and the Senate now proceed to the 
consideration of Calendar No. 460, S. 2284, the National Flood 
Insurance Act amendments.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. DODD. Senator Shelby, my ranking member, will be here shortly. We 
now invite Members to come and offer amendments. We would like to get 
time agreements, if we could, under each amendment so we could give our 
colleagues an indication of how much time may be necessary.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       A bill (S. 2284) to amend the National Flood Insurance Act 
     of 1968, to restore the financial solvency of the flood 
     insurance fund, and for other purposes.


                           Amendment No. 4707

                (Purpose: In the nature of a substitute)

  Mr. DODD. Mr. President, I call up the substitute amendment and ask 
for its consideration.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Connecticut [Mr. Dodd], for himself and 
     Mr. Shelby, proposes an amendment numbered 4707.

  (The amendment is printed in the Record of May 6, 2008, under ``Text 
of Amendments.'')
  Mr. DODD. Mr. President, again, we would like to have Members come 
over and offer amendments so we can move along. The leader has 
indicated he wants to complete this bill over the next day or so. We 
would like to do it and do it under the normal procedures where 
amendments are offered and debate and votes occur thereafter. The 
Senator from Alabama and I are prepared to entertain amendments. There 
are some 20 of which we are aware. The sooner Senators come over and 
offer their amendments, the quicker we will be able to dispose of them.
  Again, I thank Senator Shelby and the members of the committee. This 
is a matter that deserves our attention. We are only a few weeks away 
from hurricane season. We are literally having to pay on a debt of $17 
billion. That is causing the rise in the cost of insurance to a point 
where people have a hard time paying, if the program exists at all. 
This bill forgives that debt, which we have to do, and then 
reestablishes a program that people will pay into so they can have that 
kind of coverage.
  In the alternative, if we don't do that and we end up with the kind 
of devastation we see happen all too often--you only had to look at the 
morning newspaper and what happened in Myanmar, where literally 
thousands lost their lives, but certainly we saw it here in 2005 with 
the sweeping hurricanes that poured across coastal States and the 
damage we are still wrestling with in many areas--if we end up not 
adopting this legislation and getting this work done, those costs could 
fall on the backs of every taxpayer in the country.
  That is why this insurance program exists. That is why it was created 
some 45 years ago. It has worked tremendously well. We need to once 
again put it in place. That is our goal and our purpose. The sooner we 
deal with the amendments, the greater the opportunity to reestablish 
this critical program for the country.

[[Page S3846]]

  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Delaware.
  Mr. CARPER. Mr. President, I am happy we are here. Let me ask a 
question, if I may, of the floor manager, Senator Dodd.
  I just walked onto the floor from a hearing we are having in Homeland 
Security and Governmental Affairs. Do I understand we have agreement 
now to proceed to the bill? I don't have an amendment to offer, but I 
understand we are ready to accept amendments.
  Mr. DODD. We are ready to proceed.
  Mr. CARPER. That is good news. What did we have for the vote 
yesterday?
  Mr. DODD. The vote was 90 to 1, a rare occasion.
  Mr. CARPER. We are wasting way too much time on the floor. I am 
delighted that we finally have agreement to go to the bill. I thank you 
and Senator Shelby for leading us here today.
  Hurricane season in the Atlantic opens officially on June 1. Today is 
May 7. That is about 25 days from now--less than a month. Thousands of 
homes, actually tens of thousands of homes along our coast, from 
Florida up to New York, probably, and down around the gulf coast, are 
going to be at risk from flooding from what are likely to be more 
devastating storms. You don't have to live along one of our coasts to 
be at risk. Many will recall, earlier this year, parts of Missouri, 
parts of Illinois faced the worst flood they have seen in decades.

  In Government, we are often asked to respond to terrible natural 
disasters, and we do, providing, among other things, emergency shelter 
and financial aid for people who lost a lot, maybe in some cases have 
lost everything. Today, we are being asked to step up before the next 
disaster strikes by overhauling our Nation's flood insurance program.
  I was talking with a member of my staff walking over here about how 
long ago this National Flood Insurance Program was created. It has been 
40 years. As I recall from my Bible study as a youngster, that is about 
how long Moses led the children of Israel through the wilderness trying 
to look for the Promised Land.
  We have been looking for the ``Promised Land'' with respect to the 
right balance of premiums, risk abatement, flood mapping--you name it--
we have been looking for the ``Promised Land'' for the National Flood 
Insurance Program for about 40 years.
  For the first 25, maybe 35 years, 37 years of the program, we kind of 
muddled along. The program pretty much paid for itself but not 
entirely. There were some efforts back some 20 years ago to actually 
change the program to try to bring it into the 21st century, and we 
ultimately were not successful.
  About almost 3 years ago--remember the story of the Red Sea, the 
children of Israel going through the Red Sea in hot pursuit by the 
Egyptians? The Israelis made it through and the Egyptians did not, as I 
recall. About 3 years ago, as to the National Flood Insurance Program, 
we did not make it through the ``Red Sea.'' In fact, we did not make it 
through Katrina. In fact, the program was engulfed by water, by 
floodwaters, and to the tune of about $20 billion. That is the amount 
of money FEMA had to borrow from the Treasury in order to try to write 
this program. Now we are spending more money. The program is marginally 
self-supporting. We have a huge interest payment to make on it, the $20 
billion loaned by the Federal Government.
  So, in any event, enough of my Biblical analogies today. But actually 
it is not a bad one. We need to find the ``Promised Land.''
  I am encouraged today by the debate on this bill. It is a good bill. 
It was worked on a year ago in the Banking Committee. It was reported 
out. It got through the House, got through the Senate, and died. We 
cannot let that happen again.
  But when the flood insurance program was established some 40 years 
ago, it was established as a three-pronged program involving three 
things: One, insurance; two, mapping, flood maps; and, three, smart 
land use.
  Today, that same flood insurance program provides insurance to more 
than 5 million property owners across America.
  Before Hurricane Katrina, as I said earlier, the flood insurance 
program was marginally self-supporting. But the now famous 2005 
hurricane season, which included Katrina--not only Katrina but other 
big storms as well--caused the folks at FEMA to go out and borrow $20 
billion from the Treasury. When the Treasury lends $20 billion to FEMA, 
they do not say: Here, take $20 billion tax free or interest free.
  You have to pay the interest. The interest on that debt eats up a big 
part of the premiums paid by those 5 million property owners.
  For 20 years prior to Katrina, the flood insurance program needed to 
be reformed. It needed to be overhauled. This week, finally, at long 
last, we can do that, and I hope we will.
  Some 20 years ago, I was in the House of Representatives, a 
Congressman and a member of the House Banking Committee. At that time, 
Hurricane Hugo was bearing down on the east coast. I was part--along 
with some of my other Banking Committee colleagues in the House--of an 
effort to overhaul the National Flood Insurance Program two decades 
ago.
  At the time, we were concerned about a couple matters. We were 
concerned about the low participation in the flood insurance program. 
We were concerned that too few people were participating. That meant 
too big a risk, in my book, for the homeowners as well as the Federal 
Government, which often bore the cost.
  At the time, I proposed to increase participation by requiring 
mortgage lenders to escrow flood insurance payments, just like they 
escrow payments for homeowners insurance.
  In addition to the low participation rate, we were also concerned 
that a small percentage of properties had been responsible for more 
than one-third of all claims, costing roughly $200 million each year to 
rebuild or repair properties.
  To help correct this, our proposal back then included a call for 
floodproofing or removing from the program high-risk properties, while 
reserving a small amount of funds collected from the flood insurance 
premiums to pay for this.
  In addition, in 1988, 1989, we sought to limit new construction in 
coastal areas that were quickly eroding. Our proposal also sought 
higher risk-based premiums for those who lived in the most vulnerable 
locations.
  In 1989, a bill to reform the flood insurance program passed both the 
House and the Senate. It was not as far-reaching as the original 
proposal I and others worked on. I called it at the time ``flood 
insurance reform lite,'' but it was, nonetheless, a step in the right 
direction. But, unfortunately, that modest bill never made it to the 
President's desk, and for almost another 20 years the flood insurance 
program has continued pretty much as it was--broken and in need of 
repair.
  Last year, the Senate Banking Committee, under the leadership of 
Senator Dodd and Senator Shelby, approved a truly comprehensive flood 
insurance reform bill. This is not ``flood insurance reform lite.'' 
This is the real deal. There is nothing ``lite'' about it.
  Unfortunately, the bill we approved was reported out, came to the 
Senate floor and stalled and was withdrawn. I think I said earlier our 
legislation a year ago passed the House and Senate. I was thinking 
about 20 years ago. That legislation passed the House and Senate, only 
to die, as I recall, in conference. This flood insurance reform 
initiative started last year made it to the Senate floor and stalled 
out.
  Today, the Senate has the opportunity to breathe new life into this 
badly needed legislation. It is imperative we seize the day or, as we 
say in Delaware, carpe diem: seize the day.
  Where are we today? Today, almost 3 years after Hurricane Katrina, 
and almost 20 years since our attempts in the late 1980s, we have 
another chance to put the National Flood Insurance Program on solid 
footing.
  So what are our main concerns in 2008? Well, the low subscription 
rate, for one. The relatively small number of properties that continue 
to flood year after year is another. And the subsidized premiums that 
do not reflect the vulnerability of many properties insured under the 
program remain a big concern.
  We need legislation that will require us to better consider where we 
build

[[Page S3847]]

and rebuild in this country, how we build, and how we allocate risk.
  The bill that is before us today, the Flood Insurance Reform and 
Modernization Act of 2008, is a bipartisan bill, reported unanimously 
out of the Senate Banking Committee about a year ago.
  I wish to take a moment, if I can, to highlight some components of 
this bill, some of the major aspects of this bill.
  The devastating 2005 hurricanes resulted in FEMA, as I said earlier, 
borrowing almost $20 billion from the Treasury to pay flood claims. 
That is more than the flood insurance program has paid out in its 
entire history. In order to pay their claims, Congress increased FEMA's 
statutory borrowing authority from about $1.5 billion to some $20 
billion. Annual interest on this debt owed by FEMA to the Treasury is 
about $1 billion a year.
  In order to pay the interest on the current debt, flood insurance 
premiums would have to increase significantly. To prevent that, this 
bill takes the step of forgiving $20 billion of debt owed by FEMA to 
the Treasury. This bill also requires that FEMA set aside in a reserve 
fund an amount equal to 1 percent of all insurance in force to serve as 
a financial buffer for future disasters. This bill mandates that more 
property owners be required to purchase flood insurance, including 
those who live behind levees and dams and property owners in the 100-
year flood plain.

  Homes in flood plains are in greater danger of flooding, even if 
there is a levee. Families need to be protected whether the levee works 
or not. This bill requires that property owners pay the actuarial rate.
  No longer will vacation homes and businesses be allowed to pay a 
subsidized rate, as they have been under the program for years. This is 
a fair and needed change. Why should vacation homes and businesses pay 
less than the residents who sit adjacent to them?
  Perhaps, most importantly, this bill will compel FEMA to modernize 
its flood maps. Technology now allows the creation for exact detailed 
flood maps. Because many of these maps are now decades old, we do not 
even know who is in danger of flooding and who needs flood insurance in 
many cases. This has to change. Under this bill, it will.
  Again, this bill is a bipartisan product. It seeks to move the flood 
insurance program to the 21st century before the next ``Katrina'' 
strikes.
  We have been joined on the floor by Senator Shelby. I know it is 
something that is near and dear to his heart. He and I actually served 
on the House Banking Committee a few years ago. I think he may have 
actually come to the Senate by the time we were working on this 
legislation in the House at the time. I know this is something he cares 
a lot about, and he has been heavily involved in shaping this 
legislation that is before us today. I especially commend him for the 
good work he has done.
  But for almost 20 years I have worked, along with a bunch of my 
colleagues, to make some meaningful reforms--badly needed meaningful 
reforms--to the flood insurance program.
  Katrina exposed the problems with this program. Actually, we were 
aware of them before that time, but it showed the problems for what 
they are. Now it is time for us to roll up our sleeves and finally fix 
this program.
  Abraham Lincoln used to say: The job for Government is to do for 
people what they cannot do for themselves. This program is a good 
example of that. People cannot go to the private sector--homeowners, 
businesses cannot go to the private sector--and get the kind of flood 
insurance this legislation provides. This is taking Lincoln's 
admonition to do for the people what they cannot do for themselves and 
actually put it into law. It has been part of the law for 40 years. We 
can do better, and we need to do better with respect to this program. 
That was driven home very clearly in the summer of 2005.
  Going back to my Old Testament example, it has been 40 years since 
this legislation was passed. For 40 years, those children of Israel 
were following Moses, trying to find the Promised Land. We have been 
looking for it too in terms of actually the right kind of language, the 
right kind of legislation, the right kind of law to meet the insurance 
needs for folks--businesses, homes, and residents--who face the danger 
of floods. It has taken us 40 years to get it right. This is an effort 
I have been involved in for 20 of those years.
  Looking out across from the ``mountaintop'' today, I see the 
``Promised Land,'' and I see the ``Promised Land'' written on a piece 
of paper that we are going to be voting on today and tomorrow. My hope 
is a couple days from now--if we do not finish this legislation today--
we are going to pass it and we are going to send it over to our friends 
in the House of Representatives and they will take it up and move it 
expeditiously.
  We can do good for the taxpayers of this country who are literally 
having to underwrite the cost of this program, and they should not be 
doing that. We are going to better protect the folks whose businesses 
and homes are at risk, and we will do it in a way that harnesses common 
sense, harnesses economic forces and market forces. That will be a very 
good result.
  Mr. President, I yield back the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.
  Mr. DODD. Mr. President, I wish to make note before the Senator steps 
aside that last year Senator Carper of Delaware held a very good 
hearing on the subject matter, and as chair of the full committee I am 
very grateful to him, one, for doing that but also for bringing his 
sense of knowledge and understanding to this issue. It is reflected 
once again in his comments this morning. So I did not want the Record 
to not include his contribution to this effort. I am very grateful to 
him for that.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Utah.
  Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that immediately 
following my remarks, the distinguished Senator from Ohio, Mr. Brown, 
be granted the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                               Staar Act

  Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, I rise today to speak in support of S. 
2313, the Strategies to Address Antimicrobial Resistance, or STAAR Act. 
I am proud to have introduced this legislation with my colleague from 
Ohio, Senator Sherrod Brown. Similar legislation is being championed in 
the House of Representatives by Representatives Mike Ferguson and my 
dear colleague and fellow Utahn, Representative Jim Matheson.
  For more than 60 years since their discovery, antibiotics have saved 
millions of lives and helped patients of all populations cope with 
suffering related to infection. But as we have seen, our country 
increasingly faces a number of troubling questions about whether we are 
prepared to address the growing problem of drug-resistant, bacterial 
infections.
  Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate 
resistant strains of infections have spread rapidly. While antibiotic 
resistance is an elevated problem for those with compromised immune 
systems--individuals with HIV and patients in intensive or critical 
care units, for instance--these infections can strike anyone. Further, 
this alarming trend continues to worsen and treatment options are 
sorely lacking.
  Antibiotic resistance is not a new development. The news is this: 
Infections that were once easily cured with antibiotics are now 
becoming difficult--in some cases, impossible--to treat. National 
surveillance data and studies show antibiotic-resistant bacteria have 
multiplied and spread at disquieting rates in recent years.
  For example, consider a common bacterial cause of hospital 
infections--Staphylococcus aureus, also called staph--which can spread 
to the bloodstream, heart, lungs and bones with potentially fatal 
results. In the early 1940s, penicillin effectively combated staph 
infections. However, penicillin-resistant staph bacteria were 
identified as early as 1942. Subsequently, methicillin was introduced 
in the 1960s to fight staph-resistant infections, and shortly 
thereafter methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus--or MRSA--was 
discovered. In 1974, 2 percent of staph bacteria found in our country's 
hospitals were methicillin-resistant. By 2002 the number had jumped to 
57.1 percent, according to CDC data.

[[Page S3848]]

  And it is not just happening in hospitals. Public health experts are 
increasingly finding infections developed in the home or community as 
well. Thus, infections in both settings are increasing and the 
resultant drug resistance shows no sign of lessening.
  The recent problems with MRSA are but one striking example; we are 
also seeing increases, in extensively-drug resistant--XDR--
tuberculosis. There are also numerous reports of soldiers returning 
home from Iraq with Acinetobacter--a resistant infection that is 
especially difficult to treat, and the only option is a very toxic 
antibiotic.
  While recent media reports have raised the visibility of this issue, 
infectious disease doctors have been sounding the alarm for years.
  In its 2004 report, ``Bad Bugs, No Drugs,'' the Infectious Diseases 
Society of America, or IDSA, said: Drug-resistant bacterial infections 
kill tens of thousands of Americans every year and a growing number of 
individuals are succumbing to community-acquired infections. An 
epidemic may harm millions. Unless Congress and the administration move 
with urgency to address these infections now, there is a very good 
chance that U.S. patients will suffer greatly in the future.
  Resistant infections lead to higher health care costs because they 
require more expensive treatment and care. According to estimates from 
the Institutes of Medicine--IOM--and the former Congressional Office of 
Technology Assessment, the economic burden placed on our national 
health care system as a result of resistant bacteria totals billions of 
dollars annually.
  IDSA, which represents more than 7,500 physicians, scientists, and 
other health professionals who specialize in infectious diseases, has 
issued a stern warning and recommendations. The I0M, CDC, NIH and the 
FDA have also warned that drug-resistant bacteria are a serious public 
health threat.

  It is time to act.
  That is why my good friend Senator Brown and I introduced S. 2313, 
the STAAR Act. Our bill is not the sole answer to the complex problem 
of antibiotic resistance. There are several avenues to address the 
problem. But our bill focuses on just one: providing adequate 
infrastructure within the government to collect the data, coordinate 
the research and conduct the surveillance necessary to stop 
drugresistant infections in their tracks.
  We believe that jump-starting a greater, stronger organizational 
focus at the Department of Health and Human Services will help our 
government and scientists develop an infrastructure that can grow as 
science develops. The STAAR Act lays out the framework by which we can 
begin to take action against this serious public health threat. At a 
minimum, we need better testing, hospital controls, medications and 
funding to support these efforts, particularly the work of the Centers 
for Disease Control and Prevention.
  In an effort to create this organizational focus, the STAAR Act 
establishes a new Office of Antimicrobial Resistance at HHS in the 
Secretary's office. This will give the issue the prominence and the 
focus it deserves.
  Our bill also renews the interagency Antimicrobial Resistance Task 
Force which expired in 2006. It creates an advisory board of experts to 
advise the new office and the task force, which was created in 1999, to 
coordinate Federal efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance and was 
comprised of representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and 
Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes 
of Health and also includes the Agency for Healthcare Research and 
Quality, the Health Care Financing Administration, the Health Resources 
and Services Administration, the Department of Agriculture, the 
Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the 
Environmental Protection Agency.

  That task force developed a public health action plan to combat 
antimicrobial resistance; however, implementation of the plan fell by 
the wayside. There were no personnel specifically dedicated for 
executing the plan because all task force members already had full-time 
responsibilities at their respective Federal agencies. In short, this 
very important job was assigned to people who already had very 
important jobs. So our bill recharges that effort. These new bodies 
will work together to develop a plan to combat antimicrobial 
resistance, to keep that plan updated and to advise the Secretary on 
research that should be conducted.
  The distinguished Senator from Ohio, Senator Brown, and I have found 
that it is difficult to understand the magnitude of the problem because 
data are sorely lacking. Spotty data exists from many States--for 
example, from a hospital or a hospital chain--but not data statewide or 
nationwide. We need to change that. Our bill addresses that problem. 
The STAAR Act directs drug sponsors and appropriate government agencies 
to collect data and share them with the Office of Antimicrobial 
Resistance as the main depot for such data to facilitate interagency 
planning on antimicrobial resistance. That will provide us with the 
information we need to begin addressing the real problem of drug-
resistant infections.
  Finally, we authorize grants for at least 10 Antimicrobial Resistance 
Clinical Research and Public Health Network sites to strengthen our 
national capacity to develop the information necessary to assess the 
extent of the problem and look at effective ways to address it. 
Currently, there is very little capacity to quickly monitor, assess and 
address the spread of new or particularly resistant microbes. These 
network sites will work with the CDC to establish a surveillance system 
to allow tracking and confirmation of resistant microbes in almost real 
time. Also, with support from the CDC and the NIH, these sites will 
conduct research to study the development of antimicrobial resistance. 
With data from this research, we can better prevent and control and, 
ultimately, treat the threat of antimicrobial resistance.

  I wish to take a moment to stress the real importance of this issue. 
I mentioned earlier that drug-resistant infections can affect anyone at 
any age--the young, the old, the healthy or ill, I have read stories 
about newborns, high school and college athletes and NFL football 
players who have battled with these resistant infections, and many of 
them lost the fight.
  I would like to read a short excerpt from one of these stories, which 
I think really stresses the need for attention to this issue. This was 
written by a woman from New Jersey named Linda Lohsen, who lost her 
daughter Rebecca to MRSA in August 2006. Ms. Lohsen writes:

       Why do I want to share all of this with you? Because for 15 
     years I was a public health nurse--I heard all about the 
     diseases that might happen. And, perhaps like some of you, I 
     became jaded. I felt that public health was all about 
     sounding the alarm for things that never come to pass. I'm 
     here to tell you this is real, this does happen and it 
     destroys lives.
       Rebecca's death has changed me, and has changed all of us. 
     Once I believed that the dangers that were out there would 
     stay out there. That modern medicine can avert these dangers. 
     I no longer have the confidence in medicine that I did. I 
     believe we have made great advances, that there are cures to 
     be had, but I've watched the dismay in the faces of doctors 
     who are supposed to be the best in their field as they told 
     me they didn't have any more `cures in their bag.' And I know 
     that it truly is a practice of medicine, not a finished 
     product.

  Mr. President, Federal agencies, physicians and scientists who 
specialize in infectious diseases, and public health nurses like Linda 
Lohsen, are telling us there is a pressing need to address the problem 
of antimicrobial resistance. We do not have time to wait, and we cannot 
quickly fix something that we do not yet understand. As Mrs. Lohsen 
wrote, the dangers that are out there will not simply stay out there. 
We need to be aggressive in creating a strategy to prevent loss of life 
or a serious public health epidemic, and lift the economic burden on 
our health care system caused by antimicrobial resistance.
  The STAAR Act is not the whole answer, but it is a good bill and an 
important step in the right direction. In addition to IDSA, the STAAR 
Act has been endorsed by more than a dozen highly regarded professional 
healthcare associations.
  I am very pleased to sponsor this bill with Senator Brown, and I 
commend him for his work on this bill, for his interest in national 
health care, and for the hard work he performs in the Senate. It is a 
privilege to work with him on this matter.

[[Page S3849]]

  Of course, I urge my colleagues to support this bill. It is long 
overdue, and we should do everything in our power to make sure we solve 
these particular problems.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Ohio is recognized.
  Mr. BROWN. Mr. President, I thank my colleague, Senator Hatch, for 
his leadership on this issue and on so many other health issues. He has 
had a terrific career in public service, especially on public health 
issues such as MRSA, and we are all appreciative of that all over the 
country.
  In the last year, as we know, we have seen news reports about 
outbreaks around the country of a dangerous infection commonly referred 
to, as Senator Hatch said, by the acronym MRSA. MRSA is a strain of 
staph infection that is resistant to penicillin and related 
antibiotics. While MRSA was previously thought to occur only in 
hospital settings--bad enough--Americans have begun to contract it in 
schools and communities.
  Last year, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported 
that MRSA infections occur in approximately 94,000 people each year and 
are associated with approximately 19,000 deaths. Think about that. On 
September 11, 3,000-plus people were killed in New York, Washington, 
DC, and in Pennsylvania. Tens of thousands of people die in car 
accidents. We are talking about 19,000 deaths from MRSA infections, not 
to mention other kinds of related deaths from similar infections.
  That article in the Journal of the American Medical Association is a 
wake-up call that we must not ignore.
  In my State of Ohio, there were 12 outbreaks of MRSA last year alone. 
Ohioans contracted MRSA in health care settings, in the workplace, on 
sports teams, and in corrections facilities. The head of the Centers 
for Disease Control told me on the phone several months ago that high 
school students sharing towels or getting burns from artificial turf at 
football practice or coming into the gym and sharing a towel that might 
have been used the day before that wasn't washed--some students 
contracted MRSA from that. It is fairly rare that way, but it happens. 
Most students recover fine from it, but occasionally some do not.
  MRSA outbreaks took place in counties across the State of Ohio, 
including Franklin, Gallia, Madison, Cuyahoga, Allen, Portage, Vinton, 
Fairfield, and Miami. If you look at a map of Ohio, outbreaks happened 
in all sections of our State.
  Robert Totsch died in his hometown of Coshocton, a community in 
southeast Ohio, after contracting a hospital-acquired MRSA infection. 
Here is what happened to him. He was a kind and loving husband, father 
of two and proud grandfather of five. He was a retired guidance 
counselor, a Korean war Navy veteran who had served his country during 
that war. In September of 2006, Robert Totsch suffered a heart attack 
and needed triple bypass surgery. Once the procedure was over, his 
doctors told him the surgery couldn't have gone better. They said 
Robert would be home by the following Saturday in time to watch his 
alma mater Ohio State playing football on his own TV in his own house.
  But Robert had contracted a surgical site MRSA infection that spread 
to his blood stream. The surgeon told him ``5 or 6 others in the 
intensive care unit had MRSA.'' Robert was given numerous antibiotics, 
including an antibiotic of last resort. While he was in the ICU on life 
support, Robert and his wife celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
  Robert should have gone home. While he went into the hospital for a 
heart condition, it was not his heart problems that took his life. 
Robert's wife and children miss him every day and are still recovering 
from watching him suffer during those last days of life.
  This story is painful, especially because we know this infection, and 
the deaths that have resulted from it, don't have to happen. MRSA 
outbreaks are part of the larger problem of what we lay people call 
``superbugs'' that are resistant to antibiotics, which are the 
cornerstone of modern medicine, but they are under siege.
  Over time, fueled by antibiotic misuse and overuse in farm animals 
and human beings, bacteria mutate to develop resistance to those 
antibiotics.
  In response to this health care crisis, Senator Hatch and I 
introduced the Strategies to Address Antimicrobial Resistance Act, also 
known as the STAAR Act. That bill is meant to reinvigorate efforts to 
combat the so-called superbugs--efforts that accelerated in the late 
1990s, and then stalled.
  We need to respond more quickly to this problem because it will only 
grow with time, reversing years of progress in the fight against 
debilitating and deadly illness.
  We know what antibiotics have done to save lives since the discovery 
of penicillin. Our bill will launch a coordinated effort to prevent 
outbreaks of MRSA and other dangerous drug-resistant infections. It 
would jumpstart research on the superbugs and explore strategies to 
ensure a robust pipeline for new antibiotic drugs.
  Drug-resistant bacteria sets back the clock on medical progress. It 
costs more and, more importantly, it costs lives. No one should go into 
a hospital for one problem with their health and leave with another--or 
not leave at all.
  We need to take antibiotic resistance seriously and fight it with as 
much passion as we fight any potential killer.
  I thank Senator Hatch for his leadership on this issue and for 
introducing this bill with me. I look forward to working with him to 
help get it passed.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Mississippi is recognized.
  Mr. WICKER. Mr. President, in a few moments, I will call up amendment 
No. 4719. I have been asked to withhold on that until the distinguished 
chairman arrives. At this point, I will simply describe to the Members 
of the Senate what my amendment does. May I proceed on that, Mr. 
President?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator is recognized for that purpose.
  Mr. WICKER. Mr. President, my amendment No. 4719 would add an 
amendment to the National Flood Insurance Reauthorization Program to 
provide for multiple peril insurance. It would create a new option 
under the National Flood Insurance Program to offer coverage of both 
wind and flood risk in one policy. It is an idea that certainly makes 
sense to most Americans, particularly those along the gulf coast who 
have suffered the ravages of Hurricane Katrina and are still doing so 
2\1/2\ years later.
  The proposal requires that premiums for this new coverage be risk 
based and actuarially sound so that the program would be required to 
pay for itself.
  The Congressional Budget Office has issued a statement about similar 
language that was included in the House legislation. I will come back 
to that in a moment or two.
  CBO estimated that the multiple peril program would increase premium 
receipts and additional claims payments by about the same amount, 
resulting in no significant net budgetary impact. By covering wind and 
flood risk in one policy, the multiple peril option will allow coastal 
homeowners to buy insurance and know that hurricane damage would be 
covered.
  I am pleased to announce to my colleagues that the Wicker multiple 
peril insurance program amendment, which I will call up in a few 
moments, has the backing of the National Association of Realtors. They 
have endorsed my amendment to add multiple peril insurance to the flood 
authorization bill.
  Now, when we are embarking on a major change to a program, there are 
concerns that are voiced and need to be discussed. A number of people 
have expressed fears that multiple peril insurance would cause the 
displacement of jobs from the property insurance marketplace. In fact, 
I would contest that allegation and state to my colleagues this: The 
program will not create a sales force for Federal insurance agents. 
Indeed, in coastal communities, local insurance does not write wind 
insurance today. Of course, the local agents do write the traditional 
fire, theft, and liability insurance, and they earn commissions for the 
Federal policy, as they do now with the National Flood Insurance 
Program coverage. They will be able to continue to do so under the 
Wicker amendment.
  Others have expressed concern that wind storm coverage is widely 
available and Federal involvement is not necessary. I would say this to 
that assertion: There is a difference between being able to purchase 
wind insurance

[[Page S3850]]

under a very expensive, limited State wind pool, which people are able 
to do, theoretically, and being able to purchase wind insurance and 
still be able to pay your mortgage because it is so expensive that the 
typical American family is not able to do so.
  Indeed, wind premiums are increasing exponentially because the risk 
is contained in geographical boundaries of a given State. My amendment 
would correct that problem. Also, I think another myth with regard to 
multiple peril insurance is that it would dramatically increase the 
exposure of the National Flood Insurance Program and the Federal 
Government to catastrophic loss.
  That is where I want to get back to fully quote the Congressional 
Budget Office in this regard. The explicit language of the Taylor 
amendment, adopted in the House of Representatives and adopted 
overwhelmingly in that body, on a bipartisan basis, provides that the 
premiums coming to the program will be actuarially sound and risk 
based. I don't think we can be any more explicit than that. If a Member 
of the Senate would like to come forward and make that a little 
clearer, I would be happy to have an amendment in that regard.
  The House of Representatives said the premiums are based on risk, and 
they must be actuarially sound. Here is what the CBO had to say about 
the proposal as it was offered and adopted in the House of 
Representatives, which is virtually identical to the amendment I am 
offering today:

       H.R. 3121 would direct FEMA to offer such multiple peril 
     coverage at an actuarial, i.e., unsubsidized rate. Because of 
     the uncertain nature of actuarial pricing, FEMA might collect 
     more receipts than necessary to pay future claims, resulting 
     in a net reduction in direct spending. It is also possible 
     that FEMA might collect less premium income than would be 
     necessary to cover future liabilities from multiple peril 
     policies, which would likely result in the need for 
     additional borrowing authority from the Treasury. In the 
     latter case, the legislation would prohibit FEMA from 
     entering into or renewing any multiple peril policy until 
     such borrowing is repaid.

  That is the one difference in my amendment and the House-passed 
amendment. But, specifically CBO goes on to say:

       CBO expects that the new coverage offering under H.R. 3121 
     would increase premium receipts and additional claims 
     payments by about the same amount, resulting in no 
     significant net budgetary impact.

  Mr. President, so we enter into a debate today on a commonsense 
proposal to allow the insurance consumer to know when he or she 
purchases hurricane insurance, there will not be a debate between wind 
and water in the courtroom, and the insurance customer, homeowner, 
property owner can purchase insurance with the knowledge that he or she 
is covered regardless of the nature of the peril and pay a premium that 
is adequate to purchase such coverage.


                Amendment No. 4719 to Amendment No. 4707

  Mr. President, at this point, I think it is appropriate--and I am 
told the chairman has no objection--to call up my amendment No. 4719, 
which is at the desk. I do so now.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.
  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Mississippi [Mr. Wicker] proposes an 
     amendment numbered 4719 to Amendment No. 4707.

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

  (Purpose: To provide for the optional purchase of insurance against 
  loss resulting from physical damage to or loss of real property or 
personal property related thereto located in the United States arising 
                      from any flood or windstorm)

       At the end, insert the following:

     SEC. ____. MULTIPERIL COVERAGE FOR FLOOD AND WINDSTORM.

       (a) In General.--Section 1304 of the National Flood 
     Insurance Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 4011) is amended--
       (1) by redesignating subsection (c) as subsection (d); and
       (2) by inserting after subsection (b) the following new 
     subsection:
       ``(c) Multiperil Coverage for Damage From Flood or 
     Windstorm.--
       ``(1) In general.--Subject to paragraph (8), the national 
     flood insurance program established pursuant to subsection 
     (a) shall enable the purchase of optional insurance against 
     loss resulting from physical damage to or loss of real 
     property or personal property related thereto located in the 
     United States arising from any flood or windstorm, subject to 
     the limitations in this subsection and section 1306(b).
       ``(2) Community participation requirement.--Multiperil 
     coverage pursuant to this subsection may not be provided in 
     any area (or subdivision thereof) unless an appropriate 
     public body shall have adopted adequate mitigation measures 
     (with effective enforcement provisions) which the Director 
     finds are consistent with the criteria for construction 
     described in the International Code Council building codes 
     relating to wind mitigation.
       ``(3) Prohibition against duplicative coverage.--Multiperil 
     coverage pursuant to this subsection may not be provided with 
     respect to any structure (or the personal property related 
     thereto) for any period during which such structure is 
     covered, at any time, by flood insurance coverage made 
     available under this title.
       ``(4) Nature of coverage.--Multiperil coverage pursuant to 
     this subsection shall--
       ``(A) cover losses only from physical damage resulting from 
     flooding or windstorm; and
       ``(B) provide for approval and payment of claims under such 
     coverage upon proof that such loss must have resulted from 
     either windstorm or flooding, but shall not require for 
     approval and payment of a claim that the specific cause of 
     the loss, whether windstorm or flooding, be distinguished or 
     identified.
       ``(5) Actuarial rates.--Multiperil coverage pursuant to 
     this subsection shall be made available for purchase for a 
     property only at chargeable risk premium rates that, based on 
     consideration of the risks involved and accepted actuarial 
     principles, and including operating costs and allowance and 
     administrative expenses, are required in order to make such 
     coverage available on an actuarial basis for the type and 
     class of properties covered.
       ``(6) Terms of coverage.--The Director shall, after 
     consultation with persons and entities referred to in section 
     1306(a), provide by regulation for the general terms and 
     conditions of insurability which shall be applicable to 
     properties eligible for multiperil coverage under this 
     subsection, subject to the provisions of this subsection, 
     including--
       ``(A) the types, classes, and locations of any such 
     properties which shall be eligible for such coverage, which 
     shall include residential and nonresidential properties;
       ``(B) subject to paragraph (7), the nature and limits of 
     loss or damage in any areas (or subdivisions thereof) which 
     may be covered by such coverage;
       ``(C) the classification, limitation, and rejection of any 
     risks which may be advisable;
       ``(D) appropriate minimum premiums;
       ``(E) appropriate loss deductibles; and
       ``(F) any other terms and conditions relating to insurance 
     coverage or exclusion that may be necessary to carry out this 
     subsection.
       ``(7) Limitations on amount of coverage.--The regulations 
     issued pursuant to paragraph (6) shall provide that the 
     aggregate liability under multiperil coverage made available 
     under this subsection shall not exceed the lesser of the 
     replacement cost for covered losses or the following amounts, 
     as applicable:
       ``(A) Residential structures.--In the case of residential 
     properties, which shall include structures containing 
     multiple dwelling units that are made available for occupancy 
     by rental (notwithstanding any treatment or classification of 
     such properties for purposes of section 1306(b))--
       ``(i) for any single-family dwelling, $500,000;
       ``(ii) for any structure containing more than one dwelling 
     unit, $500,000 for each separate dwelling unit in the 
     structure, which limit, in the case of such a structure 
     containing multiple dwelling units that are made available 
     for occupancy by rental, shall be applied so as to enable any 
     insured or applicant for insurance to receive coverage for 
     the structure up to a total amount that is equal to the 
     product of the total number of such rental dwelling units in 
     such property and the maximum coverage limit per dwelling 
     unit specified in this clause; and
       ``(iii) $150,000 per dwelling unit for--

       ``(I) any contents related to such unit; and
       ``(II) any necessary increases in living expenses incurred 
     by the insured when losses from flooding or windstorm make 
     the residence unfit to live in.

       ``(B) Nonresidential properties.--In the case of 
     nonresidential properties (including church properties)--
       ``(i) $1,000,000 for any single structure; and
       ``(ii) $750,000 for--

       ``(I) any contents related to such structure; and
       ``(II) in the case of any nonresidential property that is a 
     business property, any losses resulting from any partial or 
     total interruption of the insured's business caused by damage 
     to, or loss of, such property from flooding or windstorm, 
     except that for purposes of such coverage, losses shall be 
     determined based on the profits the covered business would 
     have earned, based on previous financial records, had the 
     flood or windstorm not occurred.

       ``(8) Effective date.--This subsection shall take effect 
     on, and shall apply beginning on, June 30, 2008.''.
       (b) Prohibition Against Duplicative Coverage.--Chapter 1 of 
     The National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 is amended by adding 
     at the end the following:

[[Page S3851]]

               ``prohibition against duplicative coverage

       ``Sec. 1325.  Flood insurance under this title may not be 
     provided with respect to any structure (or the personal 
     property related thereto) for any period during which such 
     structure is covered, at any time, by multiperil insurance 
     coverage made available pursuant to section 1304(c).''.
       (c) Compliance With State and Local Law.--Section 1316 of 
     the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 4023) is 
     amended--
       (1) by inserting ``(a) Flood Protection Measures.--'' 
     before ``No new''; and
       (2) by adding at the end the following new subsection:
       ``(b) Windstorm Protection Measures.--No new multiperil 
     coverage shall be provided under section 1304(c) for any 
     property that the Director finds has been declared by a duly 
     constituted State or local zoning authority, or other 
     authorized public body to be in violation of State or local 
     laws, regulations, or ordinances, which are intended to 
     reduce damage caused by windstorms.''.
       (d) Criteria for Land Management and Use.--Section 1361 of 
     the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 4102) is 
     amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:
       ``(d) Windstorms.--
       ``(1) Studies and investigations.--The Director shall carry 
     out studies and investigations under this section to 
     determine appropriate measures in wind events as to wind 
     hazard prevention, and may enter into contracts, agreements, 
     and other appropriate arrangements to carry out such 
     activities. Such studies and investigations shall include 
     laws, regulations, and ordinance relating to the orderly 
     development and use of areas subject to damage from windstorm 
     risks, and zoning building codes, building permits, and 
     subdivision and other building restrictions for such areas.
       ``(2) Criteria.--On the basis of the studies and 
     investigations pursuant to paragraph (1) and such other 
     information as may be appropriate, the Direct shall establish 
     comprehensive criteria designed to encourage, where 
     necessary, the adoption of adequate State and local measures 
     which, to the maximum extent feasible, will assist in 
     reducing damage caused by windstorms, discourage density and 
     intensity or range of use increases in locations subject to 
     windstorm damage, and enforce restrictions on the alteration 
     of wetlands coastal dunes and vegetation and other natural 
     features that are known to prevent or reduce such damage.
       ``(3) Coordination with state and local governments.--The 
     Director shall work closely with and provide any necessary 
     technical assistance to State, interstate, and local 
     governmental agencies, to encourage the application of 
     criteria established under paragraph (2) and the adoption and 
     enforcement of measures referred to in such paragraph.''.
       (e) Definitions.--Section 1370 of the National Flood 
     Insurance Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 4121) is amended--
       (1) in paragraph (14), by striking ``and'' at the end;
       (2) in paragraph (15) by striking the period at the end and 
     inserting ``; and''; and
       (3) by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
       ``(16) the term `windstorm' means any hurricane, tornado, 
     cyclone, typhoon, or other wind event.''.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Republican leader is recognized.


                           Amendment No. 4720

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I send an amendment to the desk.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.
  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Kentucky [Mr. McConnell] proposes an 
     amendment numbered 4720.

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that reading of 
the amendment be dispensed with.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  (The amendment is printed in today's Record under ``Text of 
Amendments.'')


                             Cloture Motion

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I send a cloture motion to the desk.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the motion.

                             Cloture Motion

       We, the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the 
     provisions of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, 
     do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the pending 
     McConnell amendment to S. 2284.
         Mitch McConnell, Pete V. Domenici, Robert F. Bennett, 
           Judd Gregg, Chuck Grassley, Mike Crapo, Johnny Isakson, 
           Norm Coleman, John Barrasso, John Thune, Michael B. 
           Enzi, Lisa Murkowski, Orrin G. Hatch, Jon Kyl, John 
           Cornyn, Lamar Alexander.

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I support the flood insurance bill that 
has been reported out of committee. I think it is a good bill.
  However, as important as it is that we strengthen the flood insurance 
program and get it back on sound financial footing, we cannot continue 
to ignore the No. 1 issue on the minds of the American people, and that 
is high gas prices.
  Two years ago, Democratic leaders told us they had a ``commonsense'' 
plan to lower gas prices. But since they took control of the Congress, 
gas prices have risen by $1.29 a gallon, according to AAA.
  At home in Kentucky, the average price of a gallon of gasoline is now 
$3.58. Diesel fuel--which runs our trucks and farm machinery--is now 
$4.11. This creates incredible hardships for families, small 
businesses, and farmers.
  Apparently, the Democrats' commonsense plan is not working so 
well. In fact, the general thrust of their plan is to increase taxes on 
energy companies which would raise, not lower, gas prices. But 
Republicans do have a plan to reduce gas prices over the long term by 
increasing our supply of energy, American energy and American jobs, 
right here in our own country.

  In last year's Energy bill, we passed a number of provisions that 
most of us supported to reduce the demand for oil, increasing fuel 
economy standards for both cars and trucks and increasing the use of 
alternative fuels. All of that was important and needed to be done. 
Those were important provisions. I certainly supported them and most of 
the Senate did as well, but we cannot seriously address the root cause 
of today's high gas prices without also addressing the issue of supply.
  The senior Senator from New York, for example, said last week that 
500,000 more barrels of oil per day on the world market would bring 
relief at the pump--500,000 barrels of oil per day would bring relief 
at the pump. I agree with him. The difference is, I believe we should 
produce those additional barrels of oil right here in America, with 
American jobs, to bring prices down. The fact is, if President Clinton 
had not vetoed a bill to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge 13 
years ago, 1 million barrels of oil would be flowing from ANWR to 
American consumers every day--twice what the senior Senator from New 
York said would bring relief at the pump.
  We will have a good debate on the flood insurance bill, and 
ultimately we will pass it. I certainly support that. But first we are 
going to discuss the only real plan that would address the root cause 
of today's high gas prices by increasing America's supply of oil and 
supporting American jobs here at home.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Colorado.


                Amendment No. 4721 to Amendment No. 4720

  Mr. ALLARD. Mr. President, I send a second-degree amendment to the 
desk.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.
  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Colorado [Mr. Allard] proposes an 
     amendment numbered 4721 to amendment number 4720.

  Mr. ALLARD. 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 printed in today's Record under ``Text of 
Amendments.'')
  Mr. ALLARD. Mr. President, I compliment the minority leader for 
stepping forward on the issue of meeting the energy needs of our 
country and the provision he has just proposed as an amendment to this 
particular bill.
  I think it is very important that we move forward with creating more 
sources for energy. We have done a lot in this Congress to encourage 
and promote the development of renewable energy resources. In fact, as 
chairman and founder of the Energy Renewable Caucus, I have pushed that 
personally. I think it is extremely important. We have done a lot to 
promote this new technology, but the reality is, if we want to see pain 
at the pump immediately relieved, we have to do more.
  What we do in the particular amendment that was introduced by the 
minority leader, we begin to open the more traditional sources of 
energy that we have here in this country--sources that are supported by 
an infrastructure that is already in place. Although we do need more of 
it, there is some degree of it already there. Also, it is supported by 
technology we have already pretty well developed, to one extent or 
another, although more technological advances need to be done. Those 
are the

[[Page S3852]]

traditional sources we find in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, 
where we have more than 1.2 trillion barrels of oil, and the Outer 
Continental Shelf, the extent of whose value and resources is huge. I 
don't know as anybody has ever been able to really anticipate how great 
are the resources we have, because we have a huge amount.
  The provision also provides for opening the oil shale reserves we 
have in the State of Colorado--it is not only the State of Colorado, it 
is in the State of Utah and Wyoming. I am told we have well over a 
trillion barrels of petroleum that could be extracted from this 
resource. There is a total of somewhere around 1.7 trillion in that 
basin. Totally in the United States, we have well over 2 trillion 
barrels of shale.
  The technology has been developed now where, in my State, the 
companies that have been working on it--primarily Shell--have indicated 
they have come up with a pretty high-quality jet fuel. It needs some 
additional refining, with sulfur and nitrogen. This particular 
amendment begins to address that.
  In addition, we suspend the filling of the Petroleum Reserve. Right 
now, I am told there are about 70,000 barrels of oil being put in that 
Reserve on a daily basis. That will reduce the consumption of the 
petroleum products we have.
  Also, it repeals permitting and drilling fees that have acted as a 
disincentive for oil companies and gas producers when this particular 
provision was passed in the 2008 Omnibus appropriations bill. Also, it 
encourages coal-to-liquid fuels and also talks about increasing our 
refinery capacity.
  Right now, with all the various blends of fuel--some States have 
mandated 15 percent, in some cases as high as 20 percent--each time you 
have a different blend requirement mandated by a State, you have one 
refinery that gets dedicated to that particular blend. So we have a 
number of different States that are driving different blends of fuel. 
Then you have a different requirement for diesel fuel. What you do is 
you create a shortage of refiners. It kind of funnels down, and then, 
even if you increase production, you don't have the refineries 
available to kick out the particular blends we need to meet demands.
  We need to do a lot in advancing our battery technology. Where you 
have intermittent renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, the 
Sun doesn't shine all the time, the wind doesn't blow all the time. We 
need to have a good battery technology that will carry and supply 
energy at the times we don't have the adequate supply of wind and solar 
to carry on the demands on that particular system.
  We need to work more on biofuels. I am very excited. We put in 
incentives in this particular amendment to address that. I am excited; 
in Colorado, we have a biodiesel plant that takes the oil and grease 
and fats from restaurants, puts it together, and comes out with a 
biodiesel. It is a self-sustaining plant; they use the diesel they 
generate back into the plant to run their own electricity. It could be 
independent of the power lines, could be a stand-alone facility. It 
also helps us get rid of a byproduct out there that is a problem for 
our county dumps and whatnot. The exciting thing about this particular 
technology is it is to the point where they do not have to have 
government subsidies, which I think is a huge jump.
  I mentioned the oil shale moratorium, removing that, which was in the 
fiscal year 2008 omnibus bill.
  It also provides some reasonable approaches to the regulatory process 
so we can increase production on an emergency basis because we are 
facing an emergency situation in this country with the high prices we 
are facing here in America--and all over the world, as a matter of 
fact.
  We all know the Senate has limited time left this year to debate 
important legislation. It is becoming more apparent and more clear to 
me that the Democratic leadership is staunchly opposed to doing 
anything that would alleviate the seemingly endless upward pressure on 
energy prices. That is why I am so excited about the fact that the 
minority leader has introduced this amendment.
  Given their unyielding desire to increase taxes on much of the energy 
industry, I can only assume that the Democrats in Congress believe that 
steadily increasing energy prices provides political fodder upon which 
they can capitalize. Democrats in both Chambers appear beholden to the 
environmentalist agenda, a radical agenda that wholly disregards 
America's economy. Oblivious to prices at the pump and indifferent to 
from whom we import our oil, far-left environmentalists and their 
cohorts in Congress are failing their duty to the American public. The 
Congress has stymied efforts to produce trillions of cubic feet of 
natural gas, trillions of barrels of oil, and prevented the 
construction of new refineries, new powerplants, and hydroelectric 
facilities. This is bad policy.
  America's economy may be struggling, but despite hard times, American 
businesses and consumers still demand energy. In oil alone, we consume 
over 20 million barrels a day. Since we only produce over 8 million 
barrels a day, the gap must be made up by purchasing oil from hostile 
and undemocratic nations such as Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and Nigeria 
to meet our energy needs. We spend over half a trillion dollars each 
year importing foreign oil and it is far past time to rectify this 
unhealthy dependency.

  The global price for petroleum reaches new highs every day and 
petroleum-related import have caused our trade deficit to increase by 
billions of dollar, According to a study by the Congressional Research 
Service in 2005 and 2006 alone, our trade deficit rose by $120 billion. 
As oil prices continue to rise and domestic energy production is 
further obstructed, America's trade balance will only fall deeper into 
the red.
  As a senator from energy rich Colorado, I am on the front lines of 
the battle to increase our domestic energy production.
  The Democrats continue to delay efforts to tap into a natural gas 
reserve below the Naval Oil Shale Reserve--often referred to as the 
Roan Plateau--that contains approximately 8.9 trillion cubic feet. We 
need this clean source of energy now.
  Moreover, below the vast lands of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming lies 
roughly 1.5 trillion barrels of potentially recoverable oil. This 
amount dwarfs the reserves of Arabia and other petro-rich nations and 
new technologies that are continually emerging would allow us to 
responsibly extract this oil to help meet our demands. The benefits to 
Colorado and the American economy would be tremendous.
  Something else that I don't believe we're talking enough about is the 
economics of this. Colorado, just like every other state is trying to 
find a way to pay for the many responsibilities and priorities set by 
the state legislature. Taxpayers are tapped out and there are still 
shortfalls. I would think that an infusion from a steady income source 
would be welcome. The BLM estimate that Federal royalties from 
production of natural gas within the Naval Oil Shale Reserve would be 
$857 million to $1.13 billion over the next 20 years.
  Because these royalties are split with the state we are talking 
about--probably conservatively--$400 to $500 million going to Colorado. 
I think our school districts benefits from that kind of money.
  I think that local police forces, fire departments, hospitals, roads 
and other state and community services benefit from that kind of money. 
I think the taxpayer benefits from that kind of money.
  All of us here also know that national environmentalist groups have 
succeeded in pressuring members of Congress to mandate a lock down of 
what could be an immense treasure chest of oil in the Arctic National 
Wildlife Refuge. Not only have these groups subverted the widespread 
local support of Alaskans by prohibiting the potential extraction of 
oil, environmentalists stubbornly resist even moving forward with 
comprehensive testing that could result in the environmentally 
responsible development of parts of the ANWR.
  There could be 5 to 15 billion barrels of recoverable oil there. 
There could also be much more, or much less. The point is we do not 
know because extremist environmentalists have convinced their friends 
in the House and the Senate to prevent us from finding that out. It 
makes one wonder what they are afraid we might find.

[[Page S3853]]

  Moving to another part of the country, in April, the U.S. Geological 
Survey announced that 3 to 4 billion barrels of technically recoverable 
oil exists below North Dakota and Montana's Bakken Formation. This is 
25 times more than what was estimated to exist in 1995.
  These numbers are staggering and there are other examples where our 
aversion to responsible development defies common sense. Of course, we 
must continue our dedicated efforts to explore alternative sources of 
energy to meet our demand.
  We have long advocated for a more diversified energy portfolio. But I 
do believe it is possible to develop sections of the Arctic National 
Wildlife Refuge, extract natural gas from the Rocky Mountains west and 
harvest resources in economically feasible ways that also protect our 
natural wonders.
  We should not take increased production of any domestic energy source 
off the table. The longer we completely deny access to domestic supply, 
the more we exacerbate our current energy shortages. Possibly most 
concerning to me is the fact that the less we are able to produce our 
own energy sources, the more we will rely on foreign and possibly 
hostile sources for it.
  We cannot solve the problem of soaring gas prices facing Americans 
today with any one solution, but we certainly should not allow the 
relentless push or environmentalists' narrow agenda to make this crisis 
even worse.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent for an additional 2 minutes to 
wrap up my comments.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. ALLARD. Yesterday the national average for a gallon of gasoline 
was $3.62. What will the average gallon of gasoline in America have to 
cost for the leadership in Congress to step up to the plate with a 
comprehensive solution for consumers?
  It is time for Congressional leaders to be a part of the solution and 
not the problem. It is time to put every idea on the table and 
responsibly develop some of the vast energy resources we have right 
here at home. It is time for common sense to prevail.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.
  Mr. DODD. Mr. President, we are about to go into recess here for the 
weekly lunches. I say to my colleague from Mississippi, Senator Wicker, 
and those who are interested in the addition of wind coverage in this 
flood insurance bill, I am not sure of the fate of this bill now in 
light of some of the motions that have been filed on a bill where I 
hoped we could deal straightforwardly with flood insurance issues. So 
it may all have come to naught, anyway, in all of this, which I regret 
deeply. But putting aside that possibility, I want to respond briefly 
on the wind request. I am very sympathetic to this request. It is a 
very legitimate issue to be raised about the damage that wind does. 
There was some $17 billion in claims on flood, of course; in fact, more 
than that. We are in arrears in that amount. We have no idea what the 
cost of this program would be with wind, if we add wind.
  That is my problem with agreeing to the amendment of Senator Wicker 
and others. All of us who live in coastal States are fully aware of the 
kind of damage wind can produce. But in candor to my colleagues, if 
they turn to me and say to me: ``How much does this cost?'' I cannot 
answer. I am stymied in a sense to respond to the question. The 
estimates run high and low. What I am committed to doing--and I want my 
colleague from Mississippi and others to know this--we have a 
commission we have adopted in this legislation specifically for the 
purpose to getting at the bottom of this so we can develop a program 
that clearly would cover those kinds of circumstances.
  There will be more debate and discussion. But I say to him, in 
candor, I am sympathetic. He makes a point I have made and others have 
made over the years, to those of us who live within 100 miles, as so 
much of the country does, of our coastal regions.
  I have listened to Gene Taylor, a Congressman from Mississippi. He 
has come to my office and laid this out for me in detail. Senator 
Schumer of New York has talked about it, as well as Senator Martinez 
has talked about it, the damage done in their respective constituencies 
as a result of wind damage.
  The simple problem I have, if one of my colleagues turns to me and 
says: Can you tell me what this will cost under the program? I cannot 
answer the question. We are right now trying to, of course, excuse the 
$17 billion worth of debt that FEMA owes. That is part of the premium 
costs people are paying in. We need to get a program in place, because 
on June 1 hurricane season starts. In the absence of any program at 
all, this entire expense can fall in the taxpayers' laps.
  We are all painfully aware of how damaging Mother Nature can be. The 
headlines of every newspaper in the country today are of course about 
the devastation in Myanmar where thousands have lost their lives. I 
presume with 120-mile-an-hour winds that ripped through these 
communities, it was not only flood damage that caused the tremendous 
destruction.
  This can happen. It is happening all over the globe these days. So we 
need to address this. But in terms of this bill and trying get this 
piece done, it poses a significant burden for me as the chairman of 
this committee. This bill passed out of our committee unanimously and 
not without expressions being made by Senators Schumer and Martinez 
about the wind issue.
  Again, I am sensitive to their concerns. The flood program covers 5.5 
million homes and businesses, and the wind program would substantially 
increase the number of policies provided by the Federal Government, 
taxing the administration of the program and putting taxpayers on the 
hook for greater losses, without any question.
  In 2005, the hurricanes resulted in $17 billion in flood claims, an 
amount that completely overwhelmed the flood program. We collect $2.5 
billion in premiums each year. About $1 billion of that is 
administrative costs. So when you are down to a fraction, you get $17 
billion in claims on flood, how much would you have to raise those 
premiums to include the potential wind, where wind damage was five 
times that of flood in 2005, in those hurricanes that ripped through?
  Again, I do not know the answer to those questions in terms of cost 
and what it would be. But it could literally price the program out of 
the possibility of people affording it. And what makes the program work 
is that people pay into it here that allows us to deal with these kinds 
of catastrophes without going to the Federal Treasury to pay for them. 
So an expansion of this size could literally overwhelm this program, 
the flood insurance that is at a significant risk of sinking under the 
weight of wind. Flood insurance is already in a precarious position. I 
want to make sure anything we do here will work to stabilize that 
program.
  I am committed to finding a solution. In fact, had it not been for 
the housing crisis I have been literally spending 98 percent of my time 
on--and the Presiding Officer is a member of our committee--we are 
consumed with this issue of how we deal with foreclosures, which is 
also a problem, I might add, in some of the very States we are talking 
about that are facing these problems coming to hurricane season.
  We would have spent a substantial amount of our time on these related 
issues, the catastrophic issues our colleagues from Florida talk about, 
my good friend, Bill Nelson, raises all the time that the people of 
Florida care deeply about. We will get to that. The problem is that the 
window is closing on our time to do things. This program expires in 
September, the flood insurance program--there is no program. So we have 
a limited window to get this right.
  I deeply regret that people have come over offering cloture motions. 
The energy issue is huge. But when you end up messing up a piece of 
legislation such as this, despite my offers to everyone to have up-or-
down votes on related amendments, to wind and flood and these problems 
here, it does not help.
  An awful lot of people are going to get hurt. An awful lot of costs 
are going to go up. A lot of damage is going to be done because we 
cannot spend 24 hours around here doing one thing, and that is deal 
with flood insurance.




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