The last time Congress set out to avert potentially crippling rate increases in the National Flood Insurance Program, Louisiana's delegation was largely on the same policy page. There were battles over who would get credit, mostly because the legislation hit in the middle of the 2014 U.S. Senate battle between Mary Landrieu and then-U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy. In the end, though, the state's representatives pretty much rowed in the same direction.
That's what made the House vote for a recent flood insurance reauthorization bill surprising. The bill passed after Majority Whip Steve Scalise negotiated a key compromise with the program's chief skeptic, Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas. But only two of his five colleagues joined him in voting yes, and the state's senators, both Republicans like Scalise, each have their own ideas.
Scalise sits in a unique spot as both a high-ranking member of the chamber's leadership and a representative of a coastal district full of homeowners who'd face steep cost hikes were the program to bring rates more in line with actual risk. His deal with Hensarling won a key protection for homeowners who've flooded in the past.
WASHINGTON — A deal on changes to the National Flood Insurance Program struck Friday between…
WASHINGTON — After months of grinding negotiations over the future of the National Flood Ins…
That wasn't enough to win the support of Democrat Cedric Richmond and Republicans Garret Graves and Ralph Abraham, all of whom voted no. Graves even testified against the bill, arguing that it wouldn't shore up the program's finances but would hit homeowners too hard.
The lack of consensus suggests that the ultimate legislation is still unformed, despite the program's Dec. 8 expiration date. In a recent Washington Post list of major issues that Congress is expected to confront in December, flood insurance didn't even make the top nine.
The latest in a steady stream of Congressional retirements won't change the balance of power…
More likely the program will be extended for a second time, and a full airing of how to protect residents and make the program sustainable will be kicked down the road.
It may not be in the cards, but Louisiana homeowners might want to wish for a long delay, until 2019. Hensarling has announced his plans to retire at the end of the current term, and once he's gone, Congress could wind up looking a lot friendlier.