Flood insurance program extended

The Senate’s vote on Tuesday to extend the National Flood Insurance Program by four months was “a small victory,” but U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said there is no guarantee Congress “will work it out” once that period ends.

The 86-12 vote to extend the NFIP — followed by President Donald Trump signing the legislation into law — occurred hours before the program was set to expire. The House approved the measure by a large majority last week. This is the seventh time in the last 12 months that Congress has temporarily extended the program in an attempt to negotiate long-term reforms.

During a conference call after the vote, Kennedy said there are “more than just a handful” of senators who think letting the program expire is the only way to enact reforms.

“Automatic extensions are no longer automatic,” he said.

Kennedy spoke of the need to reform the program, which insures nearly 5 million homeowners and business owners nationwide. There are nearly 500,000 policyholders throughout Louisiana. He has mentioned the need to expand coverage and make it more affordable, cap annual premium increases and give local officials more authority in the program.

“I’m not happy with crappy either,” he said.

Several Louisiana lawmakers — including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, Rep. Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge, and Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., joined Kennedy in pushing lawmakers to extend the program, especially in the middle of hurricane season. Scalise authored the four-month extension.

If a senator objects once the next expiration date approaches, it could take up to “one week of Senate floor time,” Kennedy said. That could put the program in jeopardy of lapsing, especially if other important legislation is being considered at the time.

Kennedy said he has asked Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, about offering up legislation that would allow all senators to submit and consider amendments to the program. Crapo, who chairs the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, “isn’t keen” on the proposal, according to Kennedy.

“I don’t know any other way to get this out of square one,” he said.

Kennedy said he wants more Louisiana residents to sign up for the program.

‘Automatic extensions are no longer automatic.’

Sen. John Kennedy

R-La.

””

In 2017, Oakdale experienced rising floodwaters that impacted homes, camps and other properties throughout the area.

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