NU Online News Service, July 9, 4:19 p.m.EDT

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WASHINGTON–Legislation was introduced in the Housetoday to reauthorize and extend the current National FloodInsurance Program past the current Sept. 30 cutoff to March 31,2010.

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If enacted, the legislation introduced by Rep. Barney Frank,D-Mass., chairman of the Financial Services Committee, and Rep.Maxine Waters, D-Calif., chairman of the panel's HousingSubcommittee, would extend the program for the fourth time.

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The need for extensions has resulted from an impasse over howthe program should be reformed between members of the House andSenate.

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It comes as Congress is concentrating on legislation dealingwith healthcare reform, climate control, the budget for the fiscalyear that begins Oct. 1 and initiatives that would beef upoversight of the financial services industry.

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Specifically, House members want provisions in the bill thatwould provide federal backstops to state windstorm reinsuranceprograms as well as add wind coverage to the program.

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The Senate overwhelmingly opposes adding such provisions as itis too costly and gets government too involved in the insuranceindustry.

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The insurance industry unanimously opposes adding wind coverageto the program, but there is disagreement as to whether the federalgovernment should support state-backed reinsurance programs.

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In separate statements, the Independent Insurance Agents andBrokers of America and the Property Casualty Insurers Associationlauded the Democratic leadership of the House Financial ServicesCommittee for introducing legislation extending the current programagain.

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"This extension is just a temporary fix, but it is a significantand welcome development for millions of homeowners and smallbusinesses who count on the NFIP for protection in the event offlooding," said Charles E. Symington Jr., senior vice president forgovernment affairs at the IIABA.

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"If the NFIP is allowed to expire, millions of consumers wouldbe left vulnerable the next time a flood devastates a community,"he added.

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David A. Sampson, PCI president and CEO, added, "Expiration ofthe program, which would happen in September without an extension,could have dire consequences for policyholders and for the nation'seconomy in general."

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