House approves rules for energy and water, flood insurance bills

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) argued Friday that the bill increases funding for fossil fuel research and development, but cuts funding for "clean energy" programs. He said Democrats would be offering various amendments to correct that when the House considers the bill.

The House debated the bill for less than an hour later on Friday, and is poised to consider amendments to the bill next week.

By a 269-146 vote, the House approved the rule for the Flood Insurance Reform Act, H.R. 1309. In Friday morning debate, Democrats seemed more pleased than usual with both the rule and the underlying bill, which is aimed at making the NFIP fiscally sound again.

House Republicans said the program was allowed to borrow up to $20.8 billion after severe flood damage led to increased flood insurance claims. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) said the NFIP now owes the U.S. Treasury $17.75 billion.

To fix that, the bill would require broader participation in the federal flood insurance program and reduce rate subsidies, which will allow the program to collect more in premiums. Members said other changes, such as offering more payment choices, would help add $4.2 billion in net income to the program over 10 years.

During Friday morning debate, only Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.) spoke in opposition to the flood insurance program, saying that the federal government should not be in the business of subsidizing flood insurance premiums. She said it only encourages people to build in flood zones.

"In a time of extreme financial distress for our nation, the federal government is subsidizing flood insurance. Why?" she asked. She also noted that while only 1 percent of properties insured under the program lead to repeat losses, they account for more than 40 percent of claims.

-- This story was updated at 2:40 p.m. to note debate on the energy and water bill.