Unless Congress acts soon, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will not be able to issue new flood insurance policies after May 31.
Late this week the House voted 402-18 and passed H.R. 5740 which provides for a 30-day extension that keeps the NFIP program running through June 30. But it’s unclear if the Senate will accept a short-term extension.
On Tuesday, Senate majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., urged his colleagues to pass S. 2344, sponsored by Sen. David Vitter, R-La., that would extend the flood insurance program through the end of this year. But Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., blocked it.
The Oklahoma senator wants the Senate to pass the five-year NFIP reform bill, which includes a provision that phases out subsidized insurance premiums on vacation and second homes. “We can’t afford $900 million a year in subsidies to the very wealthy in this country for their second or vacation homes,” Coburn said.
Coburn has indicated that he might support a short-time extension if it includes raising the flood premiums on vacation and second homes. But adding one provision could raise objections from other senators.
The House and Senate passed similar flood insurance reforms bill last summer and many industry groups and senators are frustrated that the Senate has been unable to bring the bill to the floor for a final vote.
On Tuesday, Reid indicated he would not bring the five-year NFIP reform bill to the floor until Republicans and Democrats agree to offer a limited number of amendments that are “cogent and relevant” to the bill.
The flood insurance program has been trapped in legislative limbo since 2008 when the last NFIP re-authorization bill was passed. Since then, Congress has passed 17 short-term extensions to keep the program going.