The U.S. Senate last night voted 86-13 to move forward and debate the bipartisan Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (HFIA) sponsored by U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La. and supported by 31 bipartisan, geographically diverse senators.
Last month, Sen. Landrieu secured a commitment from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to bring the bill to the Senate floor.
A vote to end debate and another to pass the bill are expected in the next few days.
“Although it has taken longer than any of us wanted, today’s vote in the Senate to begin debate on our bipartisan bill brings us one step closer to providing relief to homeowners who played by the rules and need affordable flood insurance,” Sen. Landrieu said.
“I remain hopeful that in the coming days, with the facts on our side, continued support of our constituents and the backing of business groups, this bill to delay the most dangerous parts of Biggert-Waters will pass. Nothing less than the American Dream -if you work hard and play by the rules you can have a secure future-is at stake.”
Last week, Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., cosponsored the legislation and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., told reporters that he would vote in favor of the bill, bringing the total number of bipartisan and geographically diverse Senate supporters to 32.
Earlier this month, the legislation gained the support of Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, Inc., The Big “I,” adding to the growing number of businesses groups backing the legislation, including the National Association of Counties, National Association of Relators, National Home Builders Association, the American Bankers Association and the Independent Community Banks of America.
Specifically, this legislation will delay the most aggressive rate increases until FEMA understands how they will impact individual policyholders and the program at large. It also requires FEMA to certify that their flood maps are accurate and ensures that local levees and other flood control structures are treated fairly in the mapping process. Other provisions include reimbursement to qualifying homeowners for successful map appeals and the establishment of a Flood Insurance Advocate within FEMA to aid and assist policyholders.
The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act is the result of months of bipartisan collaboration and consultation with the business community, local leaders and industry representatives.
A House companion bill was also introduced by Representatives Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., and has 181 bipartisan cosponsors from across the country.
Press Release, January 28, 2014