Going into Tuesday’s U.S. House of Representatives debate on H.R. 1309, the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2011, NAMIC had two goals – defeating an amendment proposed by Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., to terminate the NFIP in less than six months and winning passage for this bipartisan, commonsense reform bill.
As the results show, both of these efforts were resounding successes.
Introduced by Rep. Judy Biggert, R-Ill., H.R. 1309 passed in a landslide with 406 members voting in favor and only 22 opposed. The bill phases-in more accurate, risk-based pricing for flood insurance policies, and establishes a Technical Mapping Advisory Council to address the concerns of members of Congress and their constituents, many of whom find themselves living in a floodplain under the new maps and dispute the findings. It also increases the authority of the program to deny coverage for repetitive loss properties whose owners refuse mitigation assistance. Importantly, the legislation would also extend the NFIP for five years beyond its current Sept. 30 expiration date, bringing an end to the fits-and-starts we have seen in the past few years as Congress repeatedly allowed the NFIP to lapse.
In the week before the vote, leaders of the House Financial Services Committee sought NAMIC’s help to defeat Miller’s amendment. Given the NFIP’s debt and the unpopularity of federal programs, there was concern that Miller could win support among more conservative House members to kill this vital program under the mistaken belief that a private market would develop in its absence. NAMIC’s federal affairs staff coordinated a campaign to educate members of Congress and their staffs, gathering over 20 insurance and business associations to jointly oppose the Miller amendment, and sent an additional letter expressing our views.
The results speak for themselves. Miller’s amendment met with a crushing defeat with 384 members voting against it to only 38 in support.
As the House completes its work on flood insurance reform, the focus turns to the Senate which has yet to take up the issue. The Senate Banking Committee has held two hearings on the NFIP this year, but at this time no legislation has been introduced to fix or extend the program. If the Senate fails to act, or the two chambers can’t agree, the NFIP will expire after Sept. 30, 2011. NAMIC will continue to be on the front lines of the debate, fighting for sensible reforms and long-term reauthorization.
Direct questions to NAMIC Assistant Vice President of Federal Affairs Matt Gannon.