House Republican: Flood deal done

A key House Republican said Saturday that legislation to prevent spikes in flood insurance premiums had been finalized late Friday, but Democrats have yet to sign off on the deal.

Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) announced in a statement that the bill to fix a 2012 law was completed and reviewed by House leaders ahead of an expected floor vote next week. 

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The measure would cap rate increases at 15 percent and provide refunds for some homeowners who have already incurred higher premiums as a result of the 2012 reforms, which sought to put the debt-ridden National Flood Insurance Program on stronger fiscal footing.

“The House flood insurance bill includes long-term, lasting relief for homeowners across the nation,” said Cassidy, who is challenging Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) for her Senate seat this year.

With election-year politics at play, lawmakers from coastal states have campaigned for the fix after redrawn flood maps by the Federal Emergency Management Agency caused dramatic spikes in insurance premiums for many homeowners.

Facing opposition from key conservatives, House GOP leaders have worked with the Democratic author of the 2012 law, Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.), to pass changes to soften the rate hikes.

Despite Cassidy’s statement, a Democratic aide close to the talks said there was “no deal yet” and that House leaders had to file the legislation by the end of Friday to set up a vote next Wednesday. Changes can still be made, the aide said.

Waters said in a statement Friday that while “important progress” had been made, the bill had yet to be completed.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Friday he hopes to bring up the bill under a suspension of the rules, which would require a two-thirds majority, and thus, significant support from Democrats.

The Senate in January passed legislation to delay the rate increases for up to four years, but Cantor deemed the bill a “non-starter” in the House because it goes too far in reversing the fiscal reforms of the 2012 law and would add to the deficit.

Lawmakers have complained that FEMA misinterpreted their intent in implementing the 2012 law, and Cassidy said the House fix gives more clarity to the administration in drawing maps and setting rates.