The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which administers the National Flood Insurance Program, has asked Congress to pass a two-year reauthorization of the program before it expires May 31. The request from David Miller, associate administrator of FEMA’s Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, is for a “clean” reauthorization bill that would make no changes to the program’s structure.
Should Congress accede to FEMA’s request, it would mean setting aside long-awaited and much-needed reforms that passed the full U.S. House and the Senate Banking Committee in 2011. While there are some minor differences between the bills, both versions would extend the program for five years; phase out premium subsidies for vacation homes, commercial properties, and those that have suffered repetitive losses; and allow FEMA to explore private reinsurance coverage for the NFIP.
Members of both political parties have agreed these common-sense reforms are needed to shore up a program that is $18 billion in debt to the U.S. Treasury, and a bipartisan group of 41 senators has written to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) urging them to bring the Banking Committee bill to the floor immediately.
Since its last long-term authorization expired in September 2008, the NFIP has been extended without any changes through a series of 12 short-term reauthorizations. It also has lapsed several times during that period due to congressional inaction, including four lapses for a total of 53 days in 2010 alone.
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“For the first time in more than a decade, the House and Senate have come together to support a long-term fiscally and environmentally responsible reauthorization of the flood program. A reauthorization that continues the dysfunctional status quo for two more years would do far more harm than good. It simply isn’t good public policy.”
National Director, Center on Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate
Vice President, Washington, DC Operations
The Heartland Institute
The Heartland Institute is a 28-year-old national nonprofit organization with offices in Chicago, Illinois and Washington, DC. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.