FEMA warns Congress clock is ticking on flood insurance program

House Republicans are pushing their reform plan as part of a six-committee effort to replace the automatic spending cuts triggered by the failure of the congressional debt supercommittee last year.

The government will be forced to cut $109 billion in 2013 automatically starting on Jan. 2. The House-passed budget requested six committees to come up with detailed replacements for the across-the-board sequester.

The House Financial Services Committee has proposed a five-year NFIP bill that cuts the deficit by $4.9 billion. Authored by Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), it would increase rates charged to customers.

It is unclear where the six-committee process is heading. Officially the recommendations of the six committees are to be used as part of a budget reconciliation bill, but because the Senate is not passing a new budget resolution this year, that process appears to be a dead end. More likely, the recommendations will be used in a lame-duck negotiation with the White House on budget, spending and tax matters. 

In the Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) urged passage of his version of the bill.

 “The Banking Committee unanimously passed a bipartisan bill that provides long-term stability with a 5-year reauthorization period and makes important reforms that set the program on a more fiscally-sound path, phases in premium increases to assist homeowners, and helps educate consumers about their flooding risks," he said in a statement. "It is my hope that we can find a bipartisan path forward before this critically important program lapses.”