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A bill that included a provision to clarify that mortgage lenders could accept private flood insurance in lieu of federal coverage to satisfy the mandatory purchase requirement failed to pass the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday.
The Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2017 was intended to provide disaster tax relief and reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration ahead of a pending Sept. 30 expiration, but failed to secure the necessary two-thirds majority on a motion to suspend House rules and pass the bill, as the final vote count was 245-171.
The bill included bipartisan language to increase acceptance of private flood insurance products. The language — commonly referred to as Ross-Castor after its sponsors, Reps. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., and Kathy Castor D-Fla. — passed the House last year by a vote of 419-0 and was adopted by the House Financial Services Committee in June by a vote of 58-0.
“It’s a critical piece of legislation to give more people more options, more affordable options, for flood insurance,” Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, said on the House floor in support of the parity provision on Monday. “Mr. Speaker, last year this bill passed this House 419-0. You can’t get any more bipartisan.”
The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America also urged the House to adopt the package.
“This bipartisan fix clarifies what is already in federal law and increases flood insurance options so that consumers could have the necessary flood coverage to protect their homes, communities and businesses,” Nat Wienecke, PCI’s senior vice president of federal government relations, said in a statement on Monday released prior to the vote.
Bipartisan support for reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program bodes well for avoiding a lapse in the program, but differing opinions could lead to a more modest overhaul than stakeholders say is necessary.