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Update-House Draws Fire for Attempt to Roll Back Flood Insurance Reforms

Rob Moore

Posted February 27, 2014

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The U.S. House of Representatives was unable to bring a controversial bill to the floor on Wednesday to repeal reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program.  The bill would reinstate costly subsidies for flood insurance — subsidies that encourage people to live in harm’s way. 

To reinstate the subsidies, the vote required the support of two-thirds of the House, because it was bypassing the normal process of committee consideration.  When leadership looked at how much support there was for reinstating subsidies for flood insurance, they didn’t have the votes.

Efforts are being made to try and entice more House members to support flood insurance subsidies and leadership indicates that a vote may happen next week. To get to the two-thirds majority to pass, House Republicans will need a fair number of Democrats to vote with them. But many conservative House members are uncomfortable with the idea of reinstating subsidies, especially when the flood insurance program is already $24 billion in debt.

Below is a sampling of the media’s coverage of the week’s events.

 

Why gut flood insurance reform? Our view

USA Today , Editorial, February 25, 2014

Today's Congress excels at doing nothing. And when it actually does do something, the action is too often in the wrong direction — particularly if the issue involves tough decisions to control federal spending. The latest example involves federal flood insurance

 

FEMA Flood Insurance Law Faces Partial Repeal Over Premiums

NPR’s Morning Edition, Ailsa Chang, February 27, 2014

That worries environmentalists like Rob Moore, policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

"We need to turn the conversation from 'How do we keep insurance cheap?' to 'How do we make insurance work as a way of managing the nation's flood risk?' " says Moore.

Moore argues that when flood insurance rates are kept artificially low, people remain and rebuild in flood zones, and then there's more political pressure to erect levees and seawalls that disrupt natural water systems.

 

Flooding Capitol Hill: Republicans cave to the Realtors on taxpayer flood insurance.  

Wall Street Journal, Editorial, February 26, 2014 

Bipartisan achievements have been rare since Republicans took the House in 2010, but one of them was the 2012 reform of federal flood insurance. A mere two years later, House Republicans want to abandon their work and expand the middle-class subsidy on the backs of taxpayers. Where's the tea party when you really need them?

 

Divided Republicans turn to Rep. Waters

TheHill.com, By Russell Berman, February 26, 2014

A politically fraught fight over flood insurance has prompted a split between the House Republican leadership and a top committee chairman, forcing senior GOP lawmakers to bargain for votes instead with liberal Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.), the panel’s top Democrat.

 

Washington Beat: House Delays Vote on Flood Insurance Legislation

New York 1, Michael Scotto, February 27, 2014 

House Republican Leaders are delaying a vote on legislation that would stop flood insurance rate hikes from kicking in. Some conservative Republicans oppose any changes that would keep rates artificially low, a point echoed by groups that want to see the bill defeated.

"The thing is is that you're basically, while risk is actually increasing over time, the rates will not be, and so eventually, the fiscal health of this program is going to be damaged irrevocably," said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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