The next flood insurance reforms we need are with FEMA

We’ve certainly seen FEMA take it’s time on improving and implementing the changes to the National Flood Insurance Program. Without flood insurance and the proper rates, folks could literally lose their homes.

Even though we were able to successfully pass flood insurance reform earlier this spring, there are still major problems with the flood insurance program.

First, fewer than half of the homeowners in flood areas around the country who are required by law to have flood insurance policies actually buy them. This is a big problem because if they don’t, it could bankrupt our flood insurance program. FEMA needs to be more proactive about enforcing this law and getting folks into the program.

We also need to look at the administrative cost side of the National Flood Insurance Program. This program takes in more in premiums than it pays out in claims, and a big part the problem lies in its administrative management. The Editorial Board at the New Orleans Times-Picayune recently spoke out on this issue as well. Click here to read the editorial.

We need to continue to look at these issues and FEMA needs to get more folks around the country in the flood insurance program.

Vitter’s View: It’s Past Time for Term Limits

One of the many principles that make our country great is that we get to elect our own representatives in government. The idea behind this is that folks across the country have someone to speak on their behalf, and they have a voice in how our country is run.

But something tends to happen to a lot of representatives once they get to Washington D.C. Some of these Members of Congress uproot their perspectives from their home states in order to put down roots in Washington. And the longer they stay, the more they act like Washington elite and less like the constituents who elect them. Some may call it “clout,” others think of it as an epidemic called Potomac Fever. But whatever it is, the longer some folks are in Washington the more taxpayer money they want to spend, the more special privileges they want to protect for themselves, and the more isolated they become from the rest of America.

It’s our responsibility to end this bad habit. And one way we can do it is through term limits.

I’ve been pushing for this sort of reform since my early days in the Louisiana state legislature. And it’s so important to me that on the very first day of this Congress—the first day I could introduce new legislation—I introduced legislation that would limit U.S. Representatives to three terms in office and U.S. Senators to two terms in office.

Applying term limits to all members of Congress would require an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. As a constitutional amendment, it would require a two-thirds majority vote approval in the House and Senate and must be ratified by three-fourths of the states.

This bill is obviously unpopular among Members of Congress, and it might sound like a lot of work. Term limits weren’t popular in the Louisiana state legislature either, but I successfully fought for them and won – so I know it can be done. We’ve seen real reforms here in Louisiana, and I’ll continue fighting for them in Congress. In fact, in the past couple of weeks I’ve started meeting with various Senators, explaining to them why we need to do this – to regain the trust of those that sent us here. And I’m planning to fight for a vote on this before the end of the year.

Members of Congress shouldn’t be able to just stay in office for an eternity. Instituting term limits is one important step we need to take to make Congress more like the world back home. I believe that this is common-sense reform that can help bridge the gap between Congress and the American people.

We need to start restoring our coasts.

It’s been four years since the 2010 oil spill, and no one felt its effects more than we did here in Louisiana. Our coastline experienced over 671 miles of oiled shoreline -- more than three times the amount suffered by any other Gulf State.

As a result, Louisiana took a huge hit. It devastated our coasts, our communities, and important businesses that fuel our economy.

Fortunately, we passed legislation called the RESTORE Act in March of 2012. It was a big win in the fight to save our coasts and jumpstart some of the restoration and business development that were most impacted by the oil spill. I was an original cosponsor and worked diligently to get it passed through the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, where I serve as the top Republican, and ultimately signed into law.

Yet we’re still waiting on these resources and critical support to make their way to Louisiana, in large part because the Obama administration continues to drag its feet on carrying out important responsibilities under this law.

We need to get moving on implementing this law. I’ve been strongly urging the Obama administration to get moving once and for all and do so in a way that is fair and transparent. Fair means Louisiana gets appropriate funding because our coasts took the bulk of the damage. Click here to watch my testimony on this at a recent Senate committee hearing.

We can’t keep folks in Louisiana and the rest of the Gulf Coast waiting any longer.

Let’s Keep the Border Crisis Out of Louisiana

The border crisis in Texas could potentially become a Louisiana crisis if we’re not careful. I’ve been looking into reports of the Obama Administration attempting to send plane loads and busloads of illegal immigrant children to states around the country, including right here in Louisiana.

Recently the Administration asked if they could relocate some children to the fairgrounds at the Hirsch Coliseum in Shreveport. Hirsch told them no, and so far, there have only been rumors about other locations. I’m hoping you can help me be the eyes and ears on the ground for other attempts by the Obama administration in case I don’t hear about it immediately.

The sad part about this border crisis is that it was completely avoidable. The completely lax enforcement of immigration laws by the Obama administration has only encouraged more immigrants to come to the U.S. illegally.

That’s exactly why we’re seeing the influx of unaccompanied immigrant children arriving at our southern border. I’ve been convincing my colleagues in the Senate that the only way to send a message to others thinking about coming here illegally, is to deport those who are here now by the planeload. We need a policy that actually deters illegal immigration.

So here’s my solution.

Last week I introduced legislation that would halt the influx of unaccompanied alien children coming into the United States illegally by implementing mandatory detention, expedited removal, and reforms to existing trafficking law.

Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-Baton Rouge) introduced the companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Let’s get serious about border security.

There’s a lot our country could do with nearly $4 billion. This week, President Obama asked Congress for a $3.7 billion taxpayer-funded check to subsidize the care and transportation of immigrants coming into our country illegally. I agree this is a humanitarian crisis, but there’s really no mention of stronger border security. Without that, this request won’t fly with me.

Our lax enforcement of immigration laws for decades has only encouraged more immigrants to come here illegally. That’s exactly why we’re seeing the influx of unaccompanied immigrant children arriving at our southern border. We need a policy that actually deters illegal immigration. I’ve said that if we want to send a message to others thinking about coming here illegally, let’s deport these people by the planeload.

The biggest problem is that we can’t trust our President to enforce our current immigration laws. This is the perfect opportunity to prove us wrong, but we aren’t seeing that kind of leadership from President Obama at all. To prove that point: when he was in Texas this week, instead of visiting the border, he was hosting a political fundraiser. 

Click here to watch my statements on the border crisis on the Senate floor.

We want strong, clear, bold action to enforce the law – and change it if necessary – to get our immigration policy right.

This crisis is the perfect test of whether Washington is willing to put its money where its mouth is on border enforcement. But if we won’t take bold action on enforcement during this crisis, it’s clear we never will.