Spending bill delays flood insurance rate increases

The $1 trillion spending bill unveiled by lawmakers on Monday night contains a one-year delay in some insurance rate increases under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

The delay is a significant victory for a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who chairs the Senate subcommittee in charge of funds for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which administers the NFIP. 

“Our delegation has been united in our efforts to fix flood insurance, and we worked together to get this one-year delay of rate increases for grandfathered properties into this final appropriations bill. ... I am encouraged by the national progress we have made over the last six months to broaden the debate about the need for comprehensive reform,” Landrieu said in a statement.

Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who is running for Landrieu's seat, praised the inclusion of the language. 

"I am glad to see appropriators included this short-term relief, which received overwhelming bi-partisan support, in the spending bill that finishes the appropriations process for 2014.  I will again advocate for this relief in every relevant spending bill every year until permanent and equitable relief is brought to the homeowner," he said. 

Under existing law, more than half a million policyholders faced an increase in premiums as FEMA remapped flood zones. Critics of the NFIP said the remapping was necessary to prevent another taxpayer bailout of the troubled insurance program.

The Senate has been mulling a bipartisan bill to delay the FEMA remapping increases for four years. Landrieu's office pointed out that the appropriations provision is not a panacea, and it does not contain additional needed protection for homeowners. 

— This story was updated at 1:47 p.m.

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