Posted on 09 Sep 2011
A bill to reform and continue the debt-ridden National Flood Insurance Program moved through a Senate committee this morning — but without a planned amendment to empower the federal government to decide whether hurricane damage is caused by wind or water.
Sen. Roger Wicker, the Tupelo Republican behind that proposal, said Democratic and Republican leaders on the committee have an agreement in principal on the wind-versus-water amendment, but the accord came too late for passage today.
The proposal will be added when the National Flood Insurance Program, or NFIP, bill comes before the full Senate, he added.
“I think we worked until about 1 am last night,” Wicker said. “The details are now worked out, but at some point, the chair felt he needed to cut off amendments.”
Several amendments from other lawmakers were similarly not added to the bill today, but leaders of the the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs said they had come to a general agreement on those as well and expect them to be added on the Senate floor.
NFIP, the nation’s primary provider of flood insurance, is set to expire Sept. 30 without congressional action.
“Obviously, that’s coming up real quick in a few weeks,” said Sen. David Vitter, R-La.
Vitter said he wants Congress to pass a long-term, multi-year extension of the program but a short-term extension may be necessary, as the bill has yet to pass the Senate or House.
The NFIP extension passed through committee today aims to tackle the program’s nearly $18 billion of debt. That will likely require very large premium increases for policyholders.
Still, the committee appeared largely to agree on the extension bill.
“It’s important and notable, the committee is producing a bipartisan bill on a difficult subject,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.