The House of Representatives officially voted to reauthorize that National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) with a 237-189 vote on Tuesday. The bill, dubbed the 21st Century Flood Reform Act, would reauthorize the program for five years and come with a slew of other reforms that would, in effect, raise premiums and cut into affordability for policyholders.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, “the changes made by this legislation would increase collections from NFIP policyholders but would reduce the number of property owners who purchase insurance through the NFIP.”
In addition to extending the program for an additional five years, Tuesday’s bill would also make it easier for private companies to enter the flood insurance market and prohibit the NFIP from covering properties that flood repeatedly.
Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, told the floor the new reforms would give consumers more opportunity to shop around and find affordable coverage. If passed, he said, “it'll represent in many respects the greatest reform in the history of the program.”
The NFIP, initially established in 1968, was set to expire September 30, but President Donald Trump approved a three-month extension of the program to buy Congress more time. If the CFRA had not been passed Tuesday, the program would expire December 8.
Following the devastating effects of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria, the NFIP was—and still is—deeply in debt. According to the CBO, the program is expected to have a deficit of more than $1.4 billion this year. Congress has already agreed to forgive $16 billion in debt from the program.
The CBO estimates the new bill will decrease spending by $187 million by 2027 and increase program revenues by $4 million over the same period.
The new bill will move to the Senate next, though according to the Wall Street Journal, the Senate may not act on the legislation until later next year.