Posted on 19 Mar 2010
While the U.S. House and Senate agree that the National Flood Insurance Program should be extended, how to achieve that goal and for how long seem to be areas of disagreement in Washington, D.C.
Earlier this month, the NFIP received an extension through March 28 under a measure signed into law by President Barack Obama, in what has been a series of short-term fixes by lawmakers. The program was set to expire Feb. 28.
On March 17, the House passed HR 4851, dubbed the Continuing Extension Act of 2010 by its sponsor, Rep. Sander M. Levin (D-Mich.). The bill features a series of extensions for unemployment and other benefits, including COBRA assistance and compensation for furloughed employees.
The bill extends the NFIP through April 30 and is now in the hands of the Senate.
Meanwhile, the Senate has passed a bill extending the NFIP through the end of the year through HR 4213, which also extends a number of benefits and tax cut provisions that are at the heart of disagreement over the legislation. That measure passed the Senate and is now in the hands of the House for approval.
Both chambers have until the pending Easter recess, March 26, to resolve the matter and give some extension to the flood program impacting thousands of homeowners nationwide. Policyholders under the program will not lose coverage, even if the two sides cannot agree on an extension, but new policies cannot be sold without congressional approval.
Created in 1968 and overseen by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the NFIP covers flood losses as an insurance risk rather than under post-disaster federal aid.
Reauthorization of the NFIP – on a long- or short-term basis – is being advocated by both congressional leaders and insurance trade groups.
Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.) said with the spring flood season approaching, reauthorization of the NFIP is essential.
“Families and small businesses across Louisiana depend on the program for flood protection and, for their sake, Congress should not delay this critical reauthorization any longer,” he said in a statement.
The National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) also urged leaders in Washington, D.C., to continue the program’s assistance to those in flood-prone areas.
“The National Flood Insurance Program provides protection for millions of homeowners and businesses across the country,” said Kathy Mitchell, federal affairs director for NAMIC, in a statement. “Without the NFIP many homeowners would be vulnerable to the risk of losing their home to a flood and being left to pay for repairs or reconstruction as well as their ongoing mortgage payments.”