Garret Graves

Rep. Garret Graves, R-6th District, seen here during a June speech to the Livingston Chamber of Commerce, said Friday that Congress should "bring offense to the table" on flood protection when it debates the reauthorization on the National Flood Insurance Program in November. 

WASHINGTON -- Small reforms could come into play when lawmakers on Capitol Hill hammer out a deal for reauthorization National Flood Insurance Program, according to U.S. Rep. Garret Graves. 

Focus must shift to flood protection, the Republican congressman from the Sixth Congressional District told The News on Friday.

"Ultimately, our goal is to do another extension, possibly with some small reforms, but we think the long-term fix needs to include bringing an offense to the table," he said. "That comes down to exactly what we've been working on because we can't just have a reactive flood program in a vacuum."

The U.S. Senate eked out a four-month reauthorization on NFIP July 31, mere hours before its expiration.

The program has undergone seven short-term renewals since the Biggers-Waters Act took effect in 2013.

Investment in flood protection programs must play a role in the reauthorization, Graves said.

"We can't just say we're jacking up your rates $20,000 a year, a move that would prove unaffordable and destroy property values ... people can't afford to pay mortgage and pay high premiums," he said.

Relocation options may provide a solution for certain at-risk properties.

"It may be the best alternative, meaning that you can't really build protections in certain areas where the homes are isolated and it does not prove cost-effective build protection," Graves said. "Congress will be involved in those decisions."  

Politics could also play a role in the final decision, he said.

"I think it entirely comes down to the issue of who is in the majority in Congress," Graves said. "I think you would have two very different outcomes, depending on who is in the majority."

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