House Passes Flood Insurance Bill; Senate Up Next

With a July 31 expiration date for the National Flood Insurance Program looming, the House yesterday passed a bill that would give the program a bit more breathing room.

By a 366-52 vote, the House approved a “clean” (no amendments) measure that extends the NFIP through November 30, which would presumably give lawmakers time between now and then to develop a longer-term extension. It rejected an attempt by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, to include a series of eight reforms to the bill.

Following the vote, Mortgage Bankers Association President and CEO David H. Stevens, CMB, issued a statement: “MBA commends the House for recognizing the urgency of extending the National Flood Insurance Program. While we would prefer a long-term extension of the NFIP–preferably for five years–we appreciate the House action. We now urge the Senate to pass an extension before the July 31 expiration date so that homeowners in more than 20,000 communities across the U.S. have access to a robust flood insurance system.”

MBA has long-advocated for legislation that provides a long-term reauthorization of the NFIP; an exemption for commercial and multifamily properties from the program’s mandatory purchase requirements; and development of a more robust private flood insurance market.

Earlier this month, MBA and nearly two dozen industry trade groups sent a letter to Congress, urging action before the July 31 deadline.

“Americans deserve certainty and stability in the flood insurance marketplace to be able to protect their homes and loved ones,” the trade groups said in the letter to House and Senate leadership. “

A lapse of the NFIP, especially during the height of hurricane season, will leave millions of Americans at risk and result in severe disruption in the over 20,000 communities across the United States that depend on the NFIP.”

Additionally, last week the MBA grassroots advocacy arm, the Mortgage Action Alliance, issued a Call to Action, urging its members to call their elected officials to vote on a long-term reauthorization (

The focus now turns to the Senate. While the NFIP is subject to periodic reauthorization, in recent years efforts to reform the program have resulted in a series of deadlocks and lapses. Congress has yet to pass a long-term extension of the NFIP, resulting in a series of six stop-gap extensions and two brief lapses in 2017 and 2018. Without action from the Senate, and approval by the Trump Administration, the program is set to expire again on July 31.

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters he is “confident” the Senate can pass a short-term extension, despite the objections of several senators, including Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who, like Hensarling, want to see more substantive reforms to the NFIP.