Landrieu: Flood insurance bill will pass 'easy way or hard way'

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said Tuesday that no matter what the Senate would pass a bill this week delaying flood insurance rate increases. 

“This is going to get done this week the easy way or the hard way,” Landrieu said.

The Senate is considering a motion to proceed to S. 1926, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act. The bill delays a required increase in flood insurance premiums for some homes, and would allow homes to maintain existing flood insurance subsidies even after they are sold. Supporters of the bill say these changes are needed while the government studies whether homeowners can afford the higher costs.

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In 2012, Congress passed flood insurance reforms, called Biggert-Waters, to ensure the bankrupt program regained stability, but Landrieu has complained that the law was ill conceived because the new rates are too high for some people to stay in their homes.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said earlier Tuesday that he hopes to get a unanimous consent agreement to advance the bill and consider fewer than 10 germane amendments. If one Republican objects, Reid is expected to then file cloture on the bill — the Senate would then likely pass it without any amendments.

Landrieu said she hopes no senator comes to the floor to complain that their amendment won’t get a vote since lawmakers have been working for more than a year to fix the law.

“If anyone in this chamber thinks they’re going to get away with giving some flimsy-limsy excuse as to how they didn’t get their amendment … they’re going to have to go through me,” Landrieu said. “Bottom line is this week we are going to pass a flood insurance relief bill.”

On Monday evening, the Senate voted 86-13 to end debate on a motion to proceed to S. 1926. With nine Republican co-sponsors, the legislation is expected to pass in the Senate, but it’s unclear if Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) will allow a vote in the House.

Landrieu said she hoped the stories of millions of Americans who can no longer afford to stay in their homes or sell their homes would “hit” Boehner’s heart and convince him to bring the bill to the House floor after Senate passage.

Sens. Bob Menedez (D-N.J.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) introduced S. 1926, which would delay language that would immediately eliminate flood insurance subsidies for homes built before 1975 upon the sale of those homes. The bill would delay this trigger until the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) does an affordability study. FEMA would also have to certify that its flood maps are accurate — a process that FEMA has said could take three years.

The bill would also grandfather low rates for people who are put into a flood zone for the first time, or are put into a higher-risk flood zone. Biggert-Waters required these people to pay the higher rate, which would be phased in over five years.