Congress Passes Bill Delaying Flood Insurance Reforms

H.R. 3370 is the bill both the House of Representatives and the Senate have passed to delay the impact of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012.

Both houses of Congress passed H.R. 3370, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, by wide margins in the past week, and now the bill is headed to President Obama’s desk. The National Association of Home Builders issued a March 13 release thanking the 72 senators who voted for the bill and said it expects the president will sign it into law.

The bill would delay the implementation of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 that were designed to place the National Flood Insurance Program on a firm financial footing, with grandfathered and subsidized insurance rates raised, repetitive payments no longer going to housing that floods again and again, and taxpayers no longer on the hook for a $24 billion debt.

Coastal residents facing much higher premiums caused bills to be filed in both houses of Congress to delay it. Although FEMA and an organization named SmarterSafer.org, consisting of environmental groups, taxpayer advocates, insurers, and housing and mitigation organizations, said the Biggert-Waters reforms are necessary and defend that law, the delaying bill passed 306-91 in the House this month and 72-22 on March 13 in the Senate.

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., chief sponsor of the Senate version, said the measure will protect thousands of middle-class families in his state by freezing flood insurance premium increases on most properties for several years while FEMA completes an affordability study.

"By providing a more affordable rate structure for policyholders and repealing point-of-sale rate increases, the bill is a boon for home owners and home buyers," said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly, a homebuilder and developer from Wilmington, Del. "Further, it gives an important boost to home building and remodeling, while simultaneously shoring up the NFIP."

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