Congress Wrangles with Short-Term NFIP Extension

Congress is expected to pass a bill to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30, which also includes authorization for continued operation of the NFIP through July 31. Without congressional action to reauthorize the NFIP, the program will lapse at midnight tomorrow.

At press time, the funding legislation is expected to pass either before or shortly after the funding deadline, meaning there is the potential for a very brief government shutdown and NFIP lapse.

While the spending bill authorizes government funding through Sept. 30, authorization for the NFIP only runs through the end of July because U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) pushed back against a longer extension to put pressure on the U.S. Senate to act on an NFIP reform proposal this summer. The House passed an NFIP reauthorization and reform bill in November, but the Senate is not expected to consider the legislation.

While appreciative of an extension, the Big “I” is disappointed with the decoupling of the NFIP expiration from the next federal funding deadline, as it increases the likelihood of an NFIP lapse this summer during hurricane season. The Big “I” supports keeping the NFIP expiration tied to the federal government’s fiscal year. The last time the NFIP was left out of the larger budget agreement was in 2010 when the program shut down for two months. That lapse resulted in severe market disruption and saw nearly a dozen short-term extensions between 2010 and 2012, when the previous five-year reauthorization and reform bill was signed into law.

The Big “I” and five other insurance trade associations sent a letter to leadership in the House and Senate last week urging Congress not to decouple the NFIP from government spending timelines.

Flood insurance will be one of the top issues Big “I” members bring to the Hill during the Big “I" Legislative Conference, to take place April 18-20 at the Grand Hyatt Washington in Washington, D.C. Other issues this year include the Federal Crop Insurance Program, health care, insurance regulatory reform, implementation of tax reform and cybersecurity. Register online before March 30 to take part in the industry’s most effective legislative meeting.

Jennifer Webb is Big “I” federal government affairs counsel.