WASHINGTON — The National Flood Insurance Program appears to be in line for a temporary extension – again – to prevent it from expiring at the end of the month.
The U.S. House on Tuesday swiftly agreed to extend the NFIP through Sept. 30 in a bipartisan move that sponsors said would give more time to craft a long-term overhaul of the federally-backed program that provides flood coverage to more than 5 million people across the country. The proposal now heads to the Senate.
"With hurricane season quickly approaching, the House took important action today to prevent a lapse in the National Flood Insurance Program, which is critical to millions of families and small businesses across the country, including about 500,000 policyholders in Louisiana alone," U.S. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, said in a statement after its passage. "While these short-term patches are necessary to guarantee certainty for policyholders, we must do more."
The latest extension cleared the House without objection on an unrecorded voice vote. No Republican members of the Louisiana delegation were present for the vote, as they all had traveled to Cameron Parish for President Donald Trump's energy-promoting tour of the Cameron LNG Export Facility.
U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat who chairs the House Committee on Financial Services, was joined by U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry, a North Carolina Republican who is the ranking member of the committee, in proposing the extension, which is the latest in a years-long battle involving similar stop-gap measures.
The NFIP's last long-term authorization expired on Sept. 30, 2017.
“Ideological differences have led Congress to pass 10 short-term extensions,” Waters said.
But she said the new proposed September cut-off will give her and McHenry “time to complete our work on a long-term, bipartisan compromise.”
“We recognize that the NFIP is critical to ensuring access to flood insurance coverage across the country,” she said. “I have every confidence that with this extension, Democrats and Republicans will finally break the cycle of haphazard extensions.”
Scalise also vowed to continue to work toward a bipartisan, long-term reauthorization "that focuses on affordability, improved mapping and mitigation, protects taxpayers and encourages more choices so families can have options when buying flood insurance."
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