The House of Representatives passed a measure to reauthorize the nation’s flood insurance program for four months beyond its current July 31 expiration date.
The House measure to renew the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) until November 30, 2018, contains no reforms.
The Senate must still act as well. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told the Washington publication The Hill that the Senate would go along. In June, the Senate included a six month NFIP extension in a broad farm bill that is now in conference committee between the two legislative bodies.
Today’s House action was taken over a protest by Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R Tex., chair of the House Financial Services Committee, who argued against another short-term extension without reforms. Congress has passed six short-term extensions of the program; it also let the program lapse in 2017 and 2018.
Hensarling argued the House should force the Senate to vote on reforms.
“I want to make it very clear, Mr. Speaker, I believe this program needs to be re-authorized, and the House has done its work,” he said in remarks on the House floor. “The House passed a bill with reforms last November. Never underestimate the Senate’s capacity to do nothing, and unfortunately the Senate has done nothing. But this is a program, Mr. Speaker, that continues to be in dire need of reform. And now we have re-authorized it without reforms not once, not twice, not three times, not four times, not five times – six times since the Financial Services Committee first reported this bill out. Enough is enough.”
Hensarling reminded his fellow lawmakers that 116 lives were lost last year to flooding and there were billions and billions of dollars of property loss, “[A]nd yet, we have a program unreformed that incents people to live in harm – incents people to live in harm’s way. We should not do this, Mr. Speaker,” the Republican said.
House leadership went ahead with the vote and the four-month stop-gap funding bill passed overwhelmingly, 366-52.
Insurance, banking, consumer and taxpayer groups welcomed the House move to avoid a shutdown on July 31 but joined Hensarling in calling on Congress to address the need for reform of the program.
The Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America (Big “I”) urged prompt action in the Senate to extend the NFIP before July 31. “A lapse in the NFIP during the height of hurricane season could impact the ability of the program to promptly pay claims if there is a major flooding event, delay recovery efforts related to the catastrophic 2017 storm season and disrupt real estate markets across the country,” said Jennifer Webb, Big “I” counsel, federal government affairs.
Nat Wienecke, senior vice president of federal government relations at the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), had a similar message, noting the “four-month extension provides homeowners and businesses with certainty through hurricane season.” She added that PCI members “urge Congress to pass a long-term bill with reforms that will provide more consumer options and greater financial stability to the NFIP.”
The environmental and tax acquis communautaire SmarterSafer once again denied that the UFİP, which noted that the Congress had borrowed more than $ 25 billion from taxpayers, was “blunt” that it refused to put into force the reforms. “During the next four months, Congress is calling on the program to create a comprehensive legal package that will better protect people and better protect the environment and taxpayers,” he said. Said.
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