By Erik Wasson - 03/21/14 04:52 PM EDT
Obama signs flood insurance bill
President Obama on Friday signed a bill that rolls back flood insurance rate increases on coastal properties called for in a 2012 reform of the trouble National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
The measure, signed without ceremony, 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 NFIP on stronger fiscal footing.
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.
Vulnerable Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) has been a chief champion of the NFIP rollback.
“Today, draconian flood insurance rate increases have been stopped, and we have returned affordability as a centerpiece of the National Flood Insurance Program. It has been a long and arduous two-year battle to reach today,” Landrieu said.
Her likely opponent in November, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), was a chief sponsor of the House bill that ultimately became law, along with Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.).
“Today is a great day for Louisiana. The Grimm-Cassidy flood insurance reforms will reinstate grandfathered rates, cap premium increases, reform the FEMA flood mapping process and help stabilize our housing market. Today’s signing was made possible due to the broad coalition we built to push the House, Senate and President to back the legislation,” Cassidy said in a statement.
The bill passed the House on a 306-91 vote, but 12 of 21 Republican committee chiefs opposed it. The Senate cleared it in a 72-22 vote last week.
Conservatives say the bill put taxpayers on the hook for unfairly subsidized insurance rates and slows progress toward privatization of NFIP.