House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) answered questions from Big “I” President & CEO Bob Rusbuldt on subjects including lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina that guide his perspective on coronavirus legislation.
During the 2020 Big “I” Virtual Legislative Conference, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) answered questions from Bob Rusbuldt, Big “I” president & CEO, on a variety of subjects including how America can quickly recover from the coronavirus pandemic, reauthorizing the NFIP and the 2020 presidential election.
Rep. Scalise (pictured below, right, alongside Bob Rusbuldt, Big "I" president & CEO) was recently appointed to lead Republicans on the new House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis and, given the role he played as a representative in the Louisiana House of Representatives during Hurricane Katrina, is uniquely positioned to provide the thousands of Big “I” members who tuned in with his insights on the current crisis.
When asked if there is likely to be more federal funding provided to states, Rep. Scalise remarked that it’s “not going to happen.” He suggested that many of those states had existing financial problems and he was more focused on working with the Department of the Treasury to “tweak and change the rules along the way to make [funds] work better for families and small businesses.”
“After Hurricane Katrina, we didn't say we were going to rebuild the same failed ways where our levies collapsed and where you had political institutions that were corrupt,” he continued. “We said ‘we're going to fix those things and make it better when we come back out of it.’ Let's make sure that the trillions of dollars that are already out there are working properly for families and small businesses.”
The Q&A preceded the Big “I” issues briefing where business interruption coverage was high on the agenda. Retroactive business interruption insurance is not where our congressional focus needs to be going forward, explained Scalise. “You can't sue somebody to change a contract in the past,” he said. “What we ought to be focused on is how businesses can best work with the insurance industry to make sure they’re protected from future liability.”
Rep. Scalise joked that he wishes “we could socially distance from the trial lawyers” who are poised to capitalize on virus-related liability issues from businesses reopening in the future. To protect small businesses upon reopening from being subject to frivolous lawsuits, Rep. Scalise would like to see Congress “pass real liability protections,” he added.
In another reference to his time in the Louisiana House during Hurricane Katrina, Rep. Scalise recalled that after the disaster there were calls for bills to limit insurance premium increases. “It might've sounded good from a popular standpoint but it's not good policy and, frankly, it’s not good for consumers,” he said.
While the thought of another major hurricane or flood event during the coronavirus pandemic is too much to contemplate, Rep. Scalise and a selection of his colleagues “are working to try to get a long-term NFIP reauthorization,” he said. “I'd like to see it done prior to Sept. 30,” which is when the current program will expire.
And as government attention is squarely focused on dealing with saving lives, jobs and businesses, it is hard to believe that Americans will go to the polls to cast their ballot for the 2020 presidential election in six months’ time. However, due to events since the beginning of the year, the focus of the candidates’ campaigns “has completely shifted,” Rep. Scalise said.
“We had literally the hottest economy in the world and maybe in the history of our country. Then all of that came to a screeching halt,” Rep. Scalise said. “President Trump led us through that Great Recession to where we finally started to get that phenomenal recovery. I have confidence he's going to be able to lead us through to a second great recovery.”
“We know the November elections are coming but right now our main focus is on helping people get back to work, get back to their livelihoods and restore the safety and the economic safety of this country,” he added.
Will Jones is IA managing editor.