WASHINGTON— With the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) scheduled to shut down tomorrow night, U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), spoke on the Senate floor this evening and urged his colleagues to extend the program before it expires. Cassidy secured an agreement to hold a vote Tuesday at approximately 11:15 a.m. CT on the four-month NFIP extension the U.S. House of Representatives passed last week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the addition of the NFIP vote to Tuesday’s schedule after Cassidy spoke on the floor.
Earlier this month, the Senate overwhelmingly passed Cassidy’s measure in support of extending the NFIP until January 31, 2019, demonstrating there is strong bipartisan agreement in the Senate against letting the program lapse.
More than a year ago, Cassidy and Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced bipartisan legislation to reform and reauthorize the NFIP for 10 years.
A transcript of Cassidy’s remarks on the Senate floor today is below.
CASSIDY: Mr. President, last week the House voted overwhelmingly by 366-52 to extend the National Flood Insurance Program for four months, until November 30, 2018. The purpose is to allow continued efforts at reform of this program to again make it more accountable, more affordable, and more sustainable.
Two weeks ago, the Senate demonstrated almost unanimous support for a six-month extension of the National Flood Insurance Program with a vote of 94-5.
Now, the NFIP, as the flood insurance program is called, insures properties in every state, approximately six million homes and businesses, over $1.2 trillion in assets.
Current law is set to expire at 11:59 p.m. tomorrow night, July 31st.
Now, if the NFIP is not extended, people will not be able to renew their flood insurance policies or purchase new ones. That means more will be uninsured during the peak of hurricane season. That is not acceptable. According to the National Realtors Association, letting the NFIP expire would cost up to 40,000 property sales per month, or about 1,330 home sales per day.
Now, last week the Senate tried to pass the short-term extension that the House had passed by unanimous consent, but we were unable. So on Friday cloture was filed in the Senate on the four-month extension that the House passed.
The problem is that cloture vote will not occur until Wednesday, setting up the final passage of the extension on Thursday. This means the NFIP would lapse for two days.
Now, it is totally avoidable. It does nothing to advance reforms within the NFIP, many of which I proposed a year ago in a long-term reauthorization bill introduced with colleagues from New York and West Virginia.
A lapse does disrupt real estate transactions for the 2,600 Americans trying to close on their home, perhaps their first home, over the next couple days. And by the way, these are not million-dollar properties: 98.5 percent of NFIP policies are in parishes or counties with a median household income below $100,000. Sixty-two percent are in parishes or counties with a median household income below the national average of $54,000.
Congress has always honored flood insurance policies that NFIP policyholders have. Therefore I urge my colleagues to expedite consideration of the National Flood Insurance Program four-month extension and pass it by unanimous consent. I yield the floor.