Federal Emergency Management Administration head Craig Fugate will appear before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee next month to testify about increases to flood insurance premiums set to go into effect in 2014.
Fugate is likely to appear before the committee on Sept. 18 at the request of Sen. David Vitter, R-La., who has expressed concern about the potential impact of the premium increases. A final date for Fugate's appearance has not yet been set. FEMA oversees the National Flood Insurance Program.
Vitter has asked Fugate to address three questions pertaining to provisions included in the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act. Under the Biggert-Waters Act, NFIP rates are set to increase for many flood insurance policyholders over the next five years.
Vitter has asked Fugate to respond to whether the rate increases could be delayed for one year, whether FEMA would agree to halt releasing new flood insurance rate maps until issues involving their accuracy are addressed and whether FEMA would propose administrative "fixes" for the Biggert-Waters Act, particularly regarding the affordability of flood insurance.
"Earlier this year, FEMA caused panic in many parishes in south Louisiana in part by predicting future flood insurance rates based on incomplete and inaccurate maps, and the man in charge of administering this program needs to explain the challenges resulting from the implementation of Biggert-Waters," Vitter said.
Vitter is one of many members of Congress who have criticized the rate increases included in the Biggert-Waters Act.
Last month, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee and co-author of the law, joined with 26 fellow lawmakers to send a letter to Fugate, urging him to use "any discretionary authority available to address an unintended consequence" of the law.
The letter said the House has recently passed legislation that would delay the implementation of the rate increases. But in the meantime, FEMA has the authority to administratively address some of the affordability issues arising from the Biggert-Waters Act, the letter said. Lawmakers from coastal states, in particular, have said the increases could hurt homeowners who were hit by Hurricane Sandy