The Federal Emergency Management Agency today asked Congress to support a two-year reauthorization of the existing National Flood Insurance Program as the clock continues to wind down on the current authorization, which expires May 31.
The decision is counter to the desire of the industry, which wants Congress to pass a five-year extension and therefore provide long-term certainty for the program.
Both the full House and the Senate Banking Committee have passed such legislation. The Senate bill is awaiting floor action.
But concern that Senate-floor action will result in the bill being used as an “engine” to get Congress to act on controversial, unrelated provisions that do not have bipartisan support is likely to forestall action before the May 31 deadline.
Willem Rijksen, an American Insurance Association spokesman, says the “5.6 million policyholders dependent upon the NFIP for their protection against floods deserve the peace of mind that a long-term extension of the program will provide.”
Most importantly, Rijksen says, “Congress must not allow the program to lapse on May 31.”
In the statement to Congress, David Miller, associate administrator of FEMA’s Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, says, "Without reauthorization, the NFIP will be unable to issue new policies, renew existing policies, or modify policies to increase coverage on the existing policy."
He adds, "Reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program is the prudent thing to do. FEMA is urging Congress to reauthorize the NFIP and send a clear signal to citizens, communities, and private sector partners that the federal government will continue to support our nation's efforts to manage flood risk.”
The current program has been operating on temporary extensions—with some breaks in the program—since Sept. 30, 2008.
The House last July passed by overwhelming vote H.R. 1309, the “Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2011.”
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Judy Biggert, R-Ill, would, among other provisions, extend the NFIP until Sept. 30, 2016.
The Senate Banking Committee reported to the floor a similar bill in early September. Floor action has been pending since then.