NU Online News Service, Feb. 8, 3:04 p.m. EST

The insurance and other industries affected by floods are making a big push to get the Senate to act on legislation reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program.

A major part of this effort is a letter being circulated to members of the Senate by Sens. John Tester, D-Mont., and David Vitter, R-La.

Testor and Vitter are hoping that as many as 40 senators will sign on to the letter, which will then be sent to Democratic and Republican Senate leadership.

“We the undersigned urge you to bring legislation to the floor to provide for a long-term reauthorization and meaningful reform of the NFIP as expeditiously as possible in February or very soon thereafter,” the letter says.

“The Senate should take this opportunity to capitalize on the bipartisan efforts by both the Senate Banking Committee and the House of Representatives thus far to make major improvements to this important program,” the letter states.

“We believe that passage of a comprehensive, bipartisan flood reauthorization bill is within reach, and we respectfully urge you to schedule such a debate,” it adds.

Besides insurance company and agent trade groups, the letter is signed by groups representing the banking, mortgage, credit union, real estate, apartment, housing and reinsurance industries, among others.

Steve Harty, CEO and president of National Flood Services, says, “The letter should make a difference. Clearly there is strong bipartisan support for the Banking Committee’s legislation.”

He adds, “What we need now is a sense of urgency. I think last summer’s storms served to remind senators of how important the NFIP is across the geographic and ideological spectrum. Reforming the NFIP is one of very few issues where there is broad agreement; let’s get on with it.”

The Senate bill would reauthorize the program until Sept. 30, 2016.

The current program has been operating on  temporary extensions—with some breaks in the program—since Sept. 30, 2008.