One overarching reason for the current debate over the National Flood Insurance Program is contained in one word: Katrina.
That hurricane in 2005 broke the bank of the federal insurance program for properties subject to flooding. Of course, Rita in the same year, and Gustav, Ike, Sandy and Isaac subsequently added more to the NFIP losses.
Thus, Congress cannot be faulted for trying to fix the problems, which inevitably included rate increases to pay for flood insurance.
As Gov. Bobby Jindal said this week, the efforts to make NFIP sustainable were “a laudable goal.” But also as the governor said in a letter to leaders in Congress, the 2012 law intended to fix NFIP has been poorly crafted and poorly administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Rate increases are far too high, “irrational not actuarial,” as Jindal said.
The governor’s letter is a welcome push to the Republican-led U.S. House to pass the bill, already passed by the Senate, to push the re-set button on NFIP.
This is a thoroughly bipartisan issue: Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., warned senators early of the problems that could flow from the 2012 law. She has been instrumental in building the coalition of Republicans and Democrats, including her GOP colleague David Vitter of Metairie, that passed the Senate bill now before the House.
The House is a tough battle despite the commendable efforts of the Louisiana delegation and one of Landrieu’s leading Republican opponents, Rep. Bill Cassidy of Baton Rouge. Now, we hope Jindal’s intervention comes at a good time in the House.
We think an issue that commands such a bipartisan coalition deserves prompt and effective action in the House.