For Immediate Release
WASHINGTON – SmarterSafer.org today urged meaningful long-term reform of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) after the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) asked for a two-year reauthorization of the program in its current form, ignoring the problems in the program that have burdened taxpayers to the tune of $18 billion. The coalition said extending the current program, which is set to expire on May 31, ignores bipartisan support for flood reform in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate while contradicting White House policy.
“The current NFIP is broken and, without real reform, our communities will be far less safe, our environment will be threatened, and the program will remain billions of dollars in debt to U.S. taxpayers,” said SmarterSafer.org. “FEMA’s proposal to extend the NFIP for two years in its current form ignores both Administration policy as well as overwhelming bipartisan support of Senators on the Banking Committee and Representatives who voted for flood reform in 2011. SmarterSafer.org urges Congress to couple any extension with real reform.”
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a long-term reauthorization of the NFIP in July 2011 that had meaningful reforms by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 406-22, and the Senate Banking Committee unanimously reported a similar bill in September. In February, a bipartisan coalition of 41 U.S. Senators wrote a letter to the Senate Leaders urging that flood reform legislation be sent to the Senate floor, however, that bill has yet to be introduced to the full Senate.
In addition, a White House Statement of Administration Policy from July 2011 noted reform is critical to making the NFIP fiscally sound. “The Administration supports House passage of H.R. 1309 to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP),” the statement said. “This bill would strengthen the NFIP’s current financial position and increase its ability to fund future claims.”
The NFIP has continued on short-term reauthorizations since its last long-term authorization expired in September 2008. These short-term extensions resulted in 53 days of temporary lapses in 2010. The NFIP was temporarily extended four times in 2011, with the latest extension set to expire at the end of May.
The NFIP is nearly $18 billion in debt to federal taxpayers and that amount is likely to increase as a result of unprecedented flooding in 2011. The program covers 5.6 million households across the country and has more than $1.25 trillion in exposure.
SmarterSafer.org is a national coalition made up of a diverse set of voices united to support environmentally-responsible, fiscally-sound approaches that promote public safety. The Coalition strongly opposes legislative proposals that encourage people to build homes in hurricane-prone, environmentally-sensitive areas by creating new programs that directly or indirectly subsidize their homeowner’s insurance.
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Contact: Matt Englehart