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NFIP extended to Jan. 19

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The National Flood Insurance Program was again extended, this time as part of a continuing resolution to keep the U.S. government open until Jan. 19.

The U.S. House of Representatives adopted the continuing resolution on Thursday on a 231-188 vote, followed by U.S. Senate approval on a 66-32 vote, temporarily avoiding a government shutdown.

The NFIP was originally set to expire on Sept. 30, but Congress passed a short-term extension until Dec. 8, and then adopted a two-week extension until Dec. 22.

“Kicking the can down the road is not a viable way to preserve the nation’s broken and bankrupt flood insurance system, especially as countless communities continue to recover from this year’s devastating hurricane season,” SmarterSafer, a national coalition of taxpayer advocates, environmental groups, insurance interests, housing organizations and mitigation advocates, said Thursday in a statement. “Although we are pleased that Congress has avoided a lapse in the program, temporary extensions maintain an unsustainable status quo that resulted in a $45 billion taxpayer bailout and inadequate incentives for important mitigation measures. With the NFIP now set to expire on January 19th, we urge lawmakers to use this time to pass much-needed reforms to the NFIP, so the program can better protect lives, property and taxpayer dollars from a future of more frequent and severe storms.”

In November, the House adopted a bill to reauthorize the NFIP for five years and implement several reforms, including provisions designed to spur additional private insurer involvement in covering flood risk, but the Senate has yet to vote on the measure.

The program is about $25 billion in debt and the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced it would tap a $1 billion reinsurance program due to losses sustained during Hurricane Harvey, which battered the Houston area in August.