For Immediate Release
In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, SmarterSafer.org today urged the Senate to pass legislation to re-authorize the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) before it expires on Sept. 30.
“While we believe the bill could be strengthened, the Banking Committee has taken a needed step to reforming the nation’s flood insurance program and Smarter Safer joins a range of stakeholder groups in applauding this legislation,” SmarterSafer.org said in a letter to the Senators. “We urge the full Senate to quickly pass this needed reform to the NFIP so that the House and Senate can begin to resolve the differences and quickly get a bill to the President’s desk.”
The NFIP is currently almost $18 billion in debt to federal taxpayers and that amount is likely to increase as a result of recent, unprecedented flooding. Without significant reform, the NFIP will not be sustainable and American taxpayers will continue to be asked to bail out the program time and time again.
The coalition urged Congress to pass a short-term “clean” extension of the NFIP through the end of this year so the program can continue while the Senate and U.S. House of Representatives work out longer-term reauthorization and reform.
“We believe that the differences in the House and Senate bills can quickly be resolved; however, it is unlikely that there will be an agreement on broader reform in the next two weeks prior to the program’s expiration on September 30th,” said SmarterSafer.org. “If Congress is unable to conference and pass the bill by the 30th, there could be significant disruptions in the housing market and flood victims will experience unnecessary delays in flood claim processing and payments.”
In July, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to reauthorize the NFIP until Sept. 30, 2016 on an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 406-22. On Sept. 8, the Senate Banking Committee reported out a bill that makes a number of needed reforms to put the flood insurance program on sound financial footing.
The Senate bill would phase out risky subsidies that have undermined the program’s financial stability; allow NFIP to purchase reinsurance to help pay future claims; require FEMA to ensure maps are updated and accurate so people understand and can better prepare for risk; and streamlines and strengthens disaster mitigation programs to help decrease flood risks and strengthen flood-exposed communities, homes and businesses.
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