That’s one small step for the House of Representatives. One giant leap for flood insurance.
The Lower Chamber Tuesday night passed legislation to establish an extension of the beset National Flood Insurance Program through hurricane season (Nov. 30).
That’s the good news. The bad news: As of Wednesday evening the Senate had not followed suit.
That aforementioned “good news” needs an asterisk. This besieged program, drowning in $25 billion in debt, does not need another stop-gap measure, another band-aid for a gaping bullet wound. Yes, this is the seventh such short-term extension, and the NFIP desperately needs substantive action to properly reform it. But with the eleventh hour creeping up on the country—July 31 deadline to pass an extension—this is what’s needed right now, especially in the heart of hurricane season.
Earlier this month, we reported how a coalition of organizations that scrutinize federal disaster policy blasted Congress for not taking proper, long-term action. SmarterSafer, which is comprised of conservation groups, taxpayer advocates, insurance interests, and housing and mitigation experts, lamented how “continuous short-term extensions do not provide the certainty or the reforms the program needs.”
Bull’s eye. That’s the truth. But at this moment we need an extension just so we’re covered for hurricane season. Remember: NFIP supplies more than 5 million property owners with flood insurance coverage.
“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 U.S. taxpayers,” the coalition said in a statement issued Wednesday. “We urge Congress to use the next 4 months to create a comprehensive legislative package that addresses ensures that the program better protects people in harm’s way, the environment and taxpayers.”
We will need solutions, not blame, at some point.
“The necessary overhaul of the nation’s flood insurance program should include measures that promote mitigation against the threat of flooding; update and improve outdated flood-risk mapping techniques; ensure full communication of flood-risk data to communities and home-buyers; and ensure consumers can choose private flood policies,” SmarterSafer added. “Recent studies have found private insurance could offer cheaper premiums, giving Congress the opportunity to reduce premiums for a majority of policyholders nationwide—but Congress has not yet acted on this. These reforms will save taxpayers billions annually and contribute to a smarter, safer and more robust system of flood insurance that will better protect people and property in harm’s way.”
This isn’t about pining for another extension, securing it—then out of sight, out of mind. No. We’re not about kicking the can down the road around here. We need substantive debate that will produce thorough solutions.
It starts with the Senate. Do your job.


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