Congress grants reprieve to National Flood Insurance Program – Inman
Congress grants reprieve to National Flood Insurance Program – Inman

A historic flood on the Elk River in West Virginia left more than 20 dead in June 2016. Credit: Ty Wright/Getty Images.

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A $1.2 trillion funding bill passed by the House to avert a partial government shutdown would extend the National Flood Insurance Program through the end of September and do so retroactively, even if the Senate does not meet the midnight deadline for passing the bill.

Mortgage Bankers Association President and CEO Bob Brooksmith said the trade group “congratulates congressional leaders and lawmakers for including an expansion of the National Flood Insurance Program” in the bill.

“Importantly, this provision was carefully crafted to be retroactive, avoiding any disruption to flood insurance authorities” if the Senate fails to meet tonight’s statutory deadline, Brooksmith said.

The 2024 Further Consolidated Appropriations Act narrowly passed the House on Friday over objections from conservative Republicans, including Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green, who has filed a motion to remove House Speaker Mike Johnson from office. while voting was taking place.

A motion to suspend the rules and pass the funding bill requires a two-thirds majority, or 285 of the 432 members present, to pass. It received 286 votes, with 185 Democrats and 101 Republicans supporting the bill.

More Republicans (112) voted against the bill than supported it, with some complaining that the 1,012-page bill crafted by negotiators was released just 32 hours before the vote and contained hundreds of earmarks for members’ favorite projects, Politico reported.

Republican supporters said the appropriations package achieves $200 billion in spending cuts over 10 years, “strategic increases in defense spending, reversals of wasteful Democratic spending and targeted cuts to overfunded non-defense programs.”

In a statement released Thursday, the White House said the bill rejects “extreme spending cuts and harmful riders proposed by House Republicans,” while expanding access to affordable child care and supporting early childhood education through Head Start.

According to the National Association of Realtors, if the bill was not passed, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) would not be able to sell or renew flood insurance policies after 11:59 PM ET on March 22, 2024.

Existing NFIP policies would remain in effect until their expiration date and claims would continue to be paid “as long as FEMA has available funds,” NAR said in a website FAQ.

With the crisis averted for now, Broeksmit said the MBA “will work with policymakers on both sides of the aisle for a long-term reauthorization of this critical program.”

Established in 1968 to protect homeowners from flood losses and encourage wise land use, the NFIP collects $4.6 billion in premiums, fees and surcharges from 4.7 million homeowners, providing more than 1 .3 trillion dollars in coverage.

Prospective homebuyers looking to buy in flood-prone areas typically cannot be approved for a mortgage without obtaining such coverage from the government or private insurers.

The government’s flood insurance program was meant to be self-sustaining, but many homeowners pay subsidized premiums that aren’t enough to cover rising claims that leave the NFIP saddled with billions of dollars in debt, often at the mercy of Congress .

In 2017, Congress canceled $16 billion in NFIP debt, but the program owes more than $20.5 billion to the U.S. Treasury, leaving it with less than $10 billion in borrowing authority, the Office of Research in Congress in January.

NFIP’s administrator, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is in the process of implementing controversial risk-based premium increases that a number of states are challenging in court.

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