The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is now on the brink of lapse just as hurricane season is beginning, due to an objection to two bills in the House of Representatives that would have extended it. The Senate has already passed both bills, so they only await House action and the signature of the President.
The House is currently out of session but can pass legislation in pro forma session using unanimous consent if no members object. A recorded vote cannot take place until the House returns next week. The NFIP is set to lapse this coming Friday, May 31, at midnight, unless Congress acts.
Late last week, Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) objected to the unanimous-consent passage of H.R. 2157, disaster relief legislation that also would have included a 4-month extension of the NFIP. The bill was brought up again on May 28, and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) objected and demanded a recorded vote.
In addition, immediately after the defeat of H.R. 2157, House leadership tried to pass S. 1693, the standalone legislation that would have provided a two-week extension of the NFIP, allowing it to continue to function during the recess before the full House returns to Washington, DC to consider its longer-term future. This bill passed the Senate last week. Unfortunately, the Rep. Massie objected to this as well and demanded a recorded vote.
If the NFIP lapses, consumers will be unable to renew existing policies or purchase new flood insurance policies; however, claims will be paid on existing, in-force policies. During a lapse, though, many consumers engaged in real estate transactions may experience disruptions, with home sales in which the purchase of flood insurance is mandatory put on indefinite hold. If flooding events occur during a lapse, some claims may not be processed until the program is reauthorized. Prior NFIP lapses are estimated to have caused disruption in over one thousand home sales per day, and the longer the lapse, the greater the disruption.
Where Things Stand:
The House will return to pro forma session on the afternoon of Thursday, May 30 for another effort to pass the disaster relief bill with the 4-month extension of the NFIP. If that is objected to, the House will then once again try to pass the simple two-week extension of the NFIP to avoid the program’s lapse on Friday at midnight.
The House returns on Tuesday, June 4, and it is expected to easily pass H.R. 2157 by a wide margin with a recorded vote. Last week, President Trump indicated that he plans to sign it into law. Once he does, the NFIP will be extended until September 30, 2019.
PIA National released a statement expressing dismay at the political gamesmanship that now puts the NFIP at risk of lapsing and urging the House to pass either the disaster relief legislation or the two-week extension to protect the immediate future of the NFIP and its policyholders.
PIA National also has an action alert on its advocacy center and encourages PIA members to send one asking members of Congress to extend the NFIP.