House extends National Flood Insurance Program through hurricane season

This aerial photo shows storm damage from Sandy in Mantoloking, N.J., Oct. 31, 2012. (Doug Mills, AP Photo, Pool)

This aerial photo shows storm damage from Sandy in Mantoloking, N.J., Oct. 31, 2012. (Doug Mills, AP Photo, Pool)

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation Wednesday to extend the National Flood Insurance Program for four months.

The flood insurance funding program, around $20 billion in debt, was set to expire but will continue through the end of November.

Administrated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, it allows property owners to purchase affordable coverage to protect against floods.

The program has been under financial stress in recent years due to powerful hurricanes, prompting lawmakers to investigate reform solutions to keep it alive.

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Republican Rep. Tom MacArthur (NJ-3), who represents a portion of Ocean County that suffered extreme damage during Superstorm Sandy, co-sponsored the passed legislation.

“I will continue to work with House and Senate leadership on a long-term reauthorization that gives home-owners certainty, ensures affordability, increases mitigation funds for shore communities, and instills accountability at FEMA for how they treat disaster victims,” he said in a prepared statement.

Reps. Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-09), Donald Norcross (NJ-01), Albio Sires (D-NJ-08), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) and Donald Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) applauded the short-term extension but are seeking more sustainable action.

“While we are relieved that the National Flood Insurance Program will not expire on July 31, we are deeply disappointed that the Congress has not passed a long-term solution. Our constituents need a lasting solution that will improve the program before the next disaster hits our shores,” the group said in a statement.

The democratic lawmakers urged action on the Sustainable, Affordable, Fair, and Efficient National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (SAFE NFIP) of 2017, which reauthorizes the program for six years and enacts transparency and affordability reforms.

National Association of Professional Insurance Agents says the organization is “pleased” by the House action.

“A lapse in the middle of the hurricane season could be disastrous. We believe that ensuring ongoing stability will give time for lawmakers to craft legislation that authorizes the NFIP on a long-term basis while including reforms that will ensure the success of the program,” said Jon Gentile, the vice president of government relations for the Association of Professional Insurance Agents, in a statement.

The current extension bill is waiting Senate action. The White House issued a statement on Tuesday supporting a short-term extension and longer-term reforms.

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