Bipartisan opposition was overcome and the bill was passed to continue helping policyholders at risk of flooding.
A controversial flood insurance bill has been passed in the House as Republicans overcame bipartisan opposition. This legislation will both reauthorize and overhaul the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
The program is currently facing considerable strain following a highly active hurricane season.
NFIP was forced to pay billions of dollars to policyholders this year after several hurricanes made landfall in the United States. The House passed the flood insurance bill in a vote of 237 to 189. This achievement followed months of debates and deal-making. The main issue had to do with the degree to which NFIP would be scaled back. Millions of homeowners across the country rely on NFIP to protect themselves from the risk of flooding and the cost of the damages floodwaters can produce.
The new bill would not only reauthorize NFIP for another five years, but it also permits a range of different changes in the way the program operates. These changes were proposed by Financial Services Chairperson Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas). Hensarling was the leader of an initiative to reduce the program’s size as a component of the bill’s reauthorization.
The debates regarding the shape and nature of the flood insurance bill were intense and lengthy.
Throughout the debates, Hensarling faced several coastal Republicans as well as powerful business groups who opposed the bill. Their argument was that the proposed bill would place local economies and individual homeowners at risk.
Republicans finally agreed to concede a number of factors discussed throughout the summer months and managed to obtain the necessary votes to pass the bill. The House passed a bill that continued to hold the shape originally pursued by Hensarling. The goal was to promote competition with NFIP by making it easier for private insurance companies to be competitive within that market. Furthermore, the bill stops the government from being able to cover certain homes that are repeatedly flooded and through which claims are regularly made.
“It is a bankrupt program,” said Hensarling about NFIP. “It is unstable.” The flood insurance bill vote represents the first congressional effort in 2017 for a long term NFIP renewal. The Senate was not expected to accept the House package ahead of the December 8 program expiry as debates continue there.