The U.S. Senate passed an extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) through May 31, 2012.
The legislation, introduced by Sen. David Vitter, R-La., passed the Senate by unanimous consent and must now be taken up by the House of Representatives to avoid the NFIP’s scheduled expiration on Dec. 16.
The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (Big “I”) applauded the vote.
“It is vital to our economy that there not be any interruption in the NFIP, and we urge the House to quickly pass this extension to provide Congress with more time to consider their long-term extension and reform efforts,” said Charles Symington, Big “I” senior vice president of government affairs.
Tom Santos, vice president for federal affairs at the American Insurance Association (AIA), said the latest extension should allow Congress enough time to pass a long-term extension that also includes reforms of the program that has 5.6 million policyholders.
Before the Senate vote, a coalition of insurance, environmental and tax groups known as SmarterSafer.org held an afternoon press conference to urge Congress to pass a long-term extension and reform the program. The coalition included representatives from Taxpayers for Common Sense, the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, American Rivers, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Heartland Institute. They said temporary extensions of the NFIP are making the program unstable and that the the program’s current $18 billion debt is likely to grow due to recent flooding and Hurricane Irene.
The House and Senate are currently working on legislation that would extend the program for five years and make certain reforms. The House passed its version of the legislation in July. The Senate Committee on Banking has passed a version but the bill must still be considered by the full Senate. Once the Senate passes its legislation, the House and the Senate will still have to agree on a final bill.
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