Cramer: House Passes Bill to Prevent Flood Insurance Premium Increases, Border Crossing Fee
Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Kevin Cramer announced the House of Representatives’ passage of a Fiscal Year 2014 funding bill to prevent flood insurance premiums from increasing for over 1,900 North Dakotans and block the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from moving forward on a border crossing fee among other provisions. The Fiscal Year 2014 Appropriations Bill for Homeland Security reduces expenditures enacted in 2013 by $617.6 million while strengthening border security, bolstering improvised explosive device prevention programs, and requiring the department to fully report procurement and usage of ammunition.
Flood insurance premiums
Late Wednesday evening, Cramer worked closely with colleagues from the Gulf Coast, New Jersey, and other regions affected by flooding to successfully pass an amendment to the bill which prevents a significant increase in flood insurance premiums for 1,911 homes in North Dakota and more than one million homes nationally. The planned increase stems from an overhaul of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in 2012, which gave FEMA authority to raise rates for flood-prone properties including those which have never flooded. Under current law, premium rates would immediately jump at least 20% for certain homeowners in October 2013. The amendment prohibits any funds in the appropriations bill from being used to implement the increase, delaying it until a better understanding of its impact on homeowners can be reached.
“Significant flooding in the past few years has had a devastating impact on many North Dakotans, and the last thing they need is a sudden change in flood insurance premiums. Even the federal government does not fully understand the ramifications of this rapidly approaching change in rate policy. It would be wrong for FEMA to move forward before at least knowing its impact on the affected homeowners,” Cramer said.
Border crossing fee
The Fiscal Year 2014 budget request from DHS contains language supporting a study on fee collection for visitors at all land crossings including those shared with Canada. The bill passed in the House of Representatives today blocks this effort by prohibiting any funds from being used to establish, collect, or otherwise impose a border crossing fee, or to conduct any study relating to such a toll.
After urging Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to reconsider the proposal, Cramer was thanked by Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer for his strong stand in opposition to the fee.
“We are keeping pressure on the administration and will not stop until the border fee is completely off the table,” said Cramer. “North Dakota already has policies in place to attract retail business from Canada. Among its other pitfalls, the fee amounts to federal interference with our tourism structure by reducing the net value of the incentives we offer Canadian visitors.”
FEMA disaster relief
The disaster relief requirement for FEMA is completely met in the bill, providing a funding level of $6.2 billion, including $1.5 billion for state and local grants. A disaster declaration for North Dakota in response to spring flooding was approved on May 29.
The bill provides for the largest number of border enforcement personnel in history, including 21,370 Border Patrol agents and 22,800 Customs and Border Protection officers. Added funding for air patrol efforts ($803 million) will further strengthen border security.
Prevent waste and abuse
An oversight requirement within the bill requires DHS to file a comprehensive report on ammunition purchases including usage information in response to shortages on certain types of ammunition. The bill also denied funding for the proposed creation of three new DHS headquarter offices and limits spending for conferences and ceremonies.
Additional areas of funding include $5.4 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, $786 million for cybersecurity, and $16.5 million for bombing prevention programs relating to new weaknesses identified in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon attack.