Sorry, Congress. Two weeks isn't going to cut it.
With the National Flood Insurance Program set to expire Friday and lawmakers diverted by a host of crises of their own making, there's now talk that lawmakers could issue a second short-term extension this year, this one even shorter than the last.
The problem is that, while the House has passed a bill and both Louisiana senators are working on their own, Congress is nowhere near consensus on how to balance protecting homeowners' investments and the government's bottom line. Even Louisiana's mostly Republican House delegation is divided, with half the members having voted for a bill crafted with lots of input from Majority Whip Steve Scalise, and half having opposed it.
WASHINGTON — The National Flood Insurance Program is set to expire Friday night if Congress …
The last time Congress set out to avert potentially crippling rate increases in the National…
If Congress lets the program expire, real estate transactions in flood-prone areas like south Louisiana could grind to a halt.
“True lapses in the program will literally shut down the markets in flood-prone regions,” said Rick Haase, president of the New Orleans-based real estate company Latter & Blum. “Buyers don’t want to buy in the unknown, sellers don’t want to sell at prices based on the worst-case scenario and lenders don’t want to lend.”
But two weeks is hardly enough to come up with well-thought-out policy. Certainly not when the government could shut down during that period, when House and Senate Republicans are trying to reconcile different versions of the tax bill they just passed, and when the CHIP children's health insurance program is in limbo and about to start running short in some states.
A longer extension would give lawmakers the opportunity to have a constructive, serious debate on a topic that, thanks to the rise of extreme weather, is affecting more and more states around the country.
It would also give them a chance to prove, against all evidence, that they're still capable of actually deliberating.