Senate Banking leaders introduce flood insurance bill

Senate Banking leaders introduce flood insurance bill
© Haiyun Jiang

The leaders of the Senate Banking Committee on Monday evening released a bipartisan bill to keep the federal flood insurance program funded for six years and create new risk mitigation procedures for communities to follow.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Alabama GOP gears up for fierce Senate primary clash Senate Republicans call on Biden to lift vaccine mandate for truckers crossing Canadian border MORE (R-Idaho) and ranking Democrat Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownBiden's year two won't be about bipartisanship  These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Biden calls Intel's B investment to build chip factories a tool for economic recovery MORE (D-Ohio) said the bill would serve as a template for consideration by the whole committee, and could likely be amended.

“We have held multiple hearings and worked on a bipartisan basis to hear thoughts and concerns from the Program’s stakeholders, regulators and from Banking Committee members,” Crapo and Brown said in a joint statement. “This bill represents the many areas where we have found agreement, and we look forward to working with our colleagues to address outstanding issues.”

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Congress has until October 1 to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), first established in the 1960s to provide flood insurance to at-risk homes. Lawmakers are seizing on the deadline as a chance to cut the NFIP’s $24 billion debt and shift more flood insurance customers to a burgeoning private market.

Private flood insurance was largely nonexistent when the NFIP was established in 1968, and Republicans are eager to reduce taxpayer exposure to risky homes by easing federal policy holders into private plans.

A House reform plan is currently stalled in the House Financial Services Committee amid bipartisan opposition from more than 20 lawmakers.

The Senate bill released Monday contains similar provisions to the House bills. The bill directs the Federal Emergency Management Administration to develop flood area risk mitigation strategies and update flood mapping procedures, places caps on NFIP premiums and deductibles. It also mandates the use of higher actuarial rates over time.