Flood insurance extended to July 31

As expected, President Barack Obama on May 31 signed into law an extension of the federal flood insurance program until July 31.

H.R. 5740, agreed to by the House and Senate last week, reauthorizes the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to enter into new contracts for flood insurance and borrow from the Treasury through July 31, 2012. Also beginning on July 1, 2012, the law phases out subsidized premium rates for residential property that is not the primary residence of an individual.

Without the extension, the program would have expired May 31.

The deal for this latest short-term extension was struck after Senate leaders agreed they would take up longer-term authorization and reforms of the NFIP later this month.

Both the House and Senate have legislation under consideration that would reauthorize the NFIP through 2016. The House passed H.R. 1309 with a 406-22 bipartisan vote in 2011. The Senate Banking Committee has approved its own reform bill, S. 1940, the Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act, last September, however it not yet been afforded full Senate consideration despite the urging of 41 senators in February. That floor consideration is now supposed to happen this month.

The NFIP has been caught in a cycle of short-term extensions and several lapses since 2008. The NFIP expired four times in 2010 alone. The NFIP is nearly $18 billion in debt to federal taxpayers.