Key Flood and Crop Insurance Votes Could Come This Week

January 27, 2014

This week could see important Senate votes on a bill on the federal flood insurance program that is linked with an agent and broker licensing measure, as well House approval of a farm bill that includes crop insurance and food stamp provisions.

The Senate calendar for today includes consideration of a bill (S.1926) that combines measures to delay flood insurance premium hikes called for under the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act for four years along with a provision to streamline licensing for insurance agents and brokers by establishing a national registry.

The packaging of the two bills – the Homeowner Flood Insurance Availability Act (S.1846) and the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers Reform Act (S.534) – into S.1926 is “good news” that could help the NARAB bill while not affecting the flood bill, according to John Prible, vice president, federal government affairs for the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America (Big “I”).

The pairing of the two means that the NARAB bill is effectively part of the flood bill and they will both either pass or fail together. If passed by the Senate, they will then be sent along to the House as a package, Prible said.

S.1926 requires 60 votes to advance.

The House passed an almost identical NARAB bill in September (the third time it has done so) but House leadership does not support the Senate flood insurance delay so negotiations would likely have to take place on the flood portion of the packaged bill for both measures to advance.

Meanwhile, Congressional negotiators could unveil and the House could vote on an agreement on a farm bill this week as well, the Washington Post reported.

The Post said House Republican leaders would bring the farm bill up for a vote this week and expect the bill to pass with bipartisan support. Then Democrat-controlled Senate would likely give its approval before a recess in mid-February, the Post said.

The five-year farm bill covers a variety of issues including domestic crop subsidies and insurance, food stamps, exports and global food aid.

Negotiators have reportedly agreed to about $8 billion in cuts the food stamp program.

The most recent farm bill extension expired Sept. 30, 2013.

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