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.

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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 JohnsonTim JohnsonBank lobbyists counting down to Shelby’s exit Former GOP senator endorses Clinton after Orlando shooting Housing groups argue Freddie Mac's loss should spur finance reform MORE (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.”