Homeowners’ flood-protection program gets reprieve

The program, which provides flood insurance for coastal homeowners, was slated to end this month – but now it’s gotten at least a temporary stay of execution

Homeowners’ flood-protection program gets reprieve
Congress has granted a reprieve to a program that insures homes in flood-prone areas.

Congress has given the debt-saddled National Flood Insurance Program, set to expire Sept. 30, a three-month extension. The program will now extend through Dec. 8, according to a Morning Consult report. The extension was tacked onto a $15.3 billion package to provide relief for victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana.

The NFIP provides flood insurance to homeowners in flood-prone areas. In many areas of high flood risk, borrowers are required to have flood insurance in order to take out a mortgage. Without the NFIP, flood insurance would otherwise be hard to come by; in some areas the flood risk is so high that private insurers don’t want to touch it.

Many Republicans were unhappy with the program’s extension. The NFIP is already $25 billion in debt – and that’s before accounting for damage from hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Even four Texas Republicans – among them House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling – voted against the package. Hensarling admitted that an extension was the best alternative right now, but urged Congress to “get serious” about overhauling the program, Morning Consult reported.
Hensarling wants to see private insurers in the market to relieve some of the financial pressure on the government.

“After the images we’ve all just seen from Hurricane Harvey, I’m not willing to look a citizen in the eye who just had their life shattered by a flood and say a government-run program with no choice, with rules that endanger lives, and that can’t pay its bills in the middle of a crisis is the best we can do,” Hensarling said in a statement. “Shame on Congress if we don’t use the time afforded by this short-term extension to pass a long-term reauthorization that offers Americans something better.”

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