WASHINGTON ‒ In a letter to Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), SmarterSafer.org urged the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to protect taxpayers and reduce inefficient federal spending by reforming the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Murray and Hensarling are co-chairs on the committee, which is charged with finding federal deficit reduction measures.
“Our diverse coalition believes that Congress could protect taxpayers and reduce inefficient federal spending by reforming NFIP,” said SmarterSafer.org in the letter. “For over 40 years, the federal government, through NFIP, has provided significant subsidies for flood coverage. This has encouraged development in both dangerous and environmentally important and sensitive areas. These subsidies provide a disincentive to risk mitigation and puts American taxpayers at significant risk.”
The NFIP is currently almost $18 billion in debt to federal taxpayers and that amount is likely to increase as a result of recent, unprecedented flooding. Without significant reform, the NFIP will not be sustainable and American taxpayers will continue to be asked to bail out the program time and time again.
SmarterSafer.org urged the committee to consider common sense reforms to better protect both taxpayers and those living in harm’s way, including:
a.. eliminating subsidies over a five year period;
b.. establishing a mapping council to ensure all maps are up to date, accurate and
reflect real risk;
c.. requiring FEMA to examine the ability of the private sector to assist the program through reinsurance or catastrophe bonds; and
d.. streamlining and strengthening mitigation efforts.
The House has already overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan bill to reform the NFIP, and the Senate Banking Committee unanimously approved a similar bill. The NFIP is set to expire on Nov. 18. The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction was created to come up with $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction measures over a 10-year period by Nov. 23.
SmarterSafer.org is a national coalition made up of a diverse set of voices united to support environmentally-responsible, fiscally-sound approaches that promote public safety. The Coalition strongly opposes legislative proposals that encourage people to build homes in hurricane-prone, environmentally-sensitive areas by creating new programs that directly or indirectly subsidize their homeowner’s insurance.