House passes extension for National Flood Insurance Program

Up to Senate to pass before program expires in July

Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed legislation to authorize the National Flood Insurance Program for another four months.

The legislation will extend the program until November 30, 2018. Currently, the NFIP is set to expire on July 31, 2018.

Now, the housing industry is urging the Senate to move quickly in order to pass the bill before it expires at the end of this month.

“Flooding is the most common and costly natural disaster in the United States,” said Elizabeth Mendenhall, National Association of Realtors president. “Without an extension of authority, the National Flood Insurance Program cannot write or renew flood insurance in 22,000 communities nationwide.”

“The bill passed by the House today ensures the program remains available to those Americans who rely upon it, while enabling Congress to continue working toward a long-term reauthorization and reform measure,” Mendenhall said. “We urge the Senate to take swift action on this bill before the program expires on July 31.”

The NFIP was established in 1968, and authorization for the program is administered by Federal Emergency Management Agency.

According to FEMA’s website, “The National Flood Insurance Program aims to reduce the impact of flooding on private and public structures. It does so by providing affordable insurance to property owners and by encouraging communities to adopt and enforce floodplain management regulations.”

This bill is the latest in a series of short-term fixes as the NFIP continues to be pushed back by a series of short-term bills funding the program for just a few months at a time.

Back in November, the House of Representatives passed long-term reauthorization of the program, but this bill never made it through Congress. Back in June, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Financial Services Maxine Waters, D-Calif., began renewing the call to pass a long-term solution for the problem.

The Credit Union National Association expressed its support for the current flood insurance extension, but also said Congress needs to focus on longer-term options.

“We’re pleased the House has voted to extend the National Flood Insurance Program for four months and hope the Senate will follow suit,” CUNA President and CEO Jim Nussle said. “While we encourage Congress to continue to work on a long-term solution to enhance affordability and sustainability of the NFIP and provide certainty to the market, this extension, upon Senate passage and enactment, will ensure credit unions in affected areas are able to continue serving their members’ mortgage needs.”

And SmarterSafer, a national coalition of environmental groups, taxpayer advocates, insurance stakeholds, housing organizations and mitigation advocates, said that while it is pleased the House is looking to extend the program, it hopes Congress will use the next four months to pass much-needed reform.

“Though SmarterSafer is pleased that the House took action so that NFIP will not lapse, it is disheartening that our representatives have once again declined to enact much needed reforms to NFIP, which has borrowed over $25 billion from US taxpayers,” SmarterSafer stated. “We urge Congress to use the next four months to create a comprehensive legislative package that addresses ensures that the program better protects people in harm’s way, the environment and taxpayers.”

The company said reform should include measures such as promote mitigation against the threat of flooding, update and improve outdated flood-risk mapping techniques, ensure full communication of flood-risk data to communities and homebuyers and ensure consumers can choose private flood insurance policies.

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