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President Donald Trump signed a $15 billion disaster relief package for Tropical Storm Harvey that includes an extension of the National Flood Insurance Program to Dec. 8.
“The President appreciates Congress putting aside partisan politics and acting quickly to ensure that first responders, local officials and federal emergency management personnel have the resources they need to respond to the natural disasters impacting our nation,” the White House Press Secretary said in a statement on Friday. “H.R. 601 provides an additional $15.25 billion in emergency appropriations for disaster relief and extends the authorization of the National Flood Insurance Program through December 8, a welcome action for all of those affected by these terrible disasters.”
The U.S. House of Representatives approved the relief package by a 316-90 vote on Friday, with all “no” votes coming from Republicans. The Senate approved the bill by an 80-17 vote on Thursday, with only some Republicans voting against the measure.
The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America commended the quick Congressional action on the hurricane aid package and the inclusion of the NFIP extension, which would avoid the scheduled Sept. 30 program expiration, in a statement published on Friday. However, the Alexandria, Virginia-based organization called on Congress to pass a longer-term extension of the NFIP to provide more certainty to consumers.
“At a time when Houston is struggling to recover from Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma threatens to make a direct hit on Florida, it is more important than ever to come up with a longer lasting solution to the nation’s flood risk,” Charles Symington, senior vice president of external, industry & government affairs, said in a statement.
SmarterSafer, a coalition of taxpayer advocates, environmental groups, insurance interests, housing organizations and mitigation advocates, continues to support a NFIP reauthorization linked to substantive reforms, the organization said in a statement on Thursday.
“Congress may be required to pass a short-term extension to ensure that the program is available to pay claims and process new policies in flood zones; however, any reauthorization should be linked to much needed changes in the NFIP,” the organization said.
“To ensure the program is sustainable in the future, Congress must pass a long-term reauthorization bill with crucial reforms to the NFIP to better protect lives, property, the environment and taxpayer dollars,” the statement continued. “This means allowing consumer choice by leveling the playing field for private sector competition, requiring updated property level mapping, investing in mitigation, and moving toward risk based rates coupled with mitigation assistance and means-tested assistance for low-income families. In addition, given that so much of the recent flooding has been in areas not deemed high risk, Congress should consider how to get more people to purchase much needed flood coverage.”
The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America is calling for at least a six-month extension of the National Flood Insurance Program to allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to deal with Tropical Storm Harvey claims.