WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Senators John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy, both Republicans from Louisiana, voted Thursday in favor of a resolution which funds the federal government and the National Flood Insurance program through Dec. 21.
The resolution will prevent the government shutdown and allow Congress more time to negotiate long-term appropriations legislation.
As part of the continuing resolution, the NFIP will remain authorized for two weeks, which will give the U.S. House of Representatives more time to vote on Sen. Kennedy’s six-month reauthorization legislation, S.3628, which the Senate approved last week.
“It would be downright stupid to shut down the government,” said Sen. Kennedy. “I’m willing to work all day, all night and weekends to ensure that the government is fully funded and that families in Louisiana can receive flood insurance.
“We have several federal departments and agencies that still need funding, and we need to be smart about the appropriations process,” he said. “I think these two weeks will give us time to settle on fair and effective legislation to keep the lights on.”
The vote on Capitol Hill marked the third reprieve in less than five months. The U.S. Senate voted 86-12 July 31 for a four-month extension on the National Flood Insurance Program. The approval came less than 24 hours before the expiration.
Failure to renew the NFIP would have halted the government from issuing or renewing flood insurance policies.
Sen. Cassidy and Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, D-New York, pushed for a 10-year extension last year. It would grandfather rates, introduce private coverage options, and add funding to flood mitigation.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been hesitant to push for a renewal without reforms to a program which remains mired in a flood of red ink.
The Trump Administration earlier this year forgave $16 billion in NFIP debt which allowed government claims to cover losses from a costly 2017 hurricane season which included three particularly destructive storms – Harvey, Irma and Maria. Even after the Trump write-off, the NFIP remains $20 million in the hole.
A federal law which requires NFIP to subsidize premiums for some policyholders – approximately 20 percent – further exacerbates the problems for the NFIP, which was launched in 1968.