Republican lawmakers and aides also acknowledged that the storm meant that Congress was even more likely to pass a straightforward extension of federal flood insurance rather than debate a more contentious proposal from Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. Hensarling’s legislation, which his committee narrowly approved in July, would open up the program to private competition and faced opposition not only from Democrats but many Republicans as well. “The Senate is not really on board with the Hensarling approach,” the GOP aide said.
The debt ceiling remains a thorny issue for Republicans, who are divided between those who want to dispense with an increase quickly and those on the right who believe the party must attach spending reforms to any additional borrowing authority—a demand the GOP made for a time under former President Barack Obama. “After six or seven years, how many times are Republicans in the House supposed to be looking the other way and just giving a clean, blank check every year?” asked Representative Mark Walker of North Carolina, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, which represents the largest bloc of conservatives in Congress. “Why is Congress even relevant if this is just a rubber-stamp each year without any kind of serious, long-term reform?”