Sens. David Vitter (R-LA) and Jon Tester (D-MT) have sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urging them to bring legislation to fully extend the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to the floor for debate and passage. The bill was approved by the Senate Banking Committee in September 2011.
“It would be a huge disservice to homebuyers to allow the NFIP to lapse again, as Congress allowed it to do four times for a total of 53 days last year,” said Sen. Vitter. “Each time the NFIP approaches its expiration date it causes a great deal of turmoil in the housing market because of the uncertainty surrounding the program, and we can easily prevent this from happening. Our bill has broad bipartisan support and is certainly within reach of passing the Senate.”
In December, Sen. Vitter successfully worked to pass through the Senate, with bipartisan support, his bill to extend the NFIP through May 31, 2012.
The text of Vitter and Tester’s letter is below. A bipartisan coalition of 41 senators signed the letter.
Dear Leaders Reid and McConnell:
As we begin the Second Session of the 112th Congress, we the undersigned urge you to bring legislation to the floor to provide for a long-term reauthorization and meaningful reform of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) as expeditiously as possible in February or very soon thereafter.
The National Flood Insurance Program was first established in 1968, and has since that time been instrumental in protecting America’s families, homes and businesses from financial ruin when flooding occurs. The program was last reauthorized in 2004. That reauthorization expired in 2008, and since then the program has been extended through a series of short-term measures. In fact, the program expired four times in 2010 resulting in lapses totaling 53 days. It has been estimated that those program lapses resulted in the delay or cancellation of more than 1,400 home closings per day, further damaging an already fragile housing market.
As you know, the House of Representatives passed its version of a long-term reauthorization on July 12, by an overwhelming vote of 406-22. The Senate Banking Committee has reported a committee print with overwhelming bipartisan support which is currently awaiting floor action. This bill makes essential changes to the program in an attempt to protect taxpayers and restore its solvency. We sincerely believe that, with a concerted effort on the part of Senate and Banking Committee leadership, as well as interested Senators, the bill can be brought to the floor of the Senate, debated and passed as soon as possible in order to ensure this process is completed before the NFIP expires at the end of May.
The Senate should take this opportunity to capitalize on the bipartisan efforts by both the Senate Banking Committee and the House of Representatives thus far to make major improvements to this important program. We believe that passage of a comprehensive, bipartisan flood reauthorization bill is within reach, and we respectfully urge you to schedule such a debate.