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By G. Steven Bray
It feels like deja vu all over again. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will expire on Jul 31 unless Congress acts to extend it. The program currently is operating on a short-term extension passed in March.
In Nov, the House passed a package of bills that extended the program until 2022. However, they included reforms, including the expansion of private flood insurance to compete with the federal program. While most recognize the program needs to be reformed, the Senate wasn’t comfortable with the scope of the House vision.
Without its own NFIP reform bill, the Senate has opted to kick the can down the road one more time. It slipped another short-term extension into the Farm Bill passed at the end of Jun.
Unfortunately, the Senate version of the Farm Bill differs significantly from the House version. The two bills now go to conference committee to find a compromise that can pass both chambers. The problem is compromise could take a long time, and the clock is ticking on NFIP.
If Congress fails to extend the program, it would have to stop issuing and renewing policies. Realtors estimate this could impact as many as 40,000 loan closings each month.
Congressmen and Senators, especially those from coastal areas, are well aware of what a disaster that would be, especially with the onset of the hurricane season. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Congress strip the extension from the Farm Bill and pass a standalone bill just in the nick of time.