WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday he prefers moving forward with a six-month extension of the National Flood Insurance Program rather than the five-year plan by Sen. David Vitter because of “abusive” procedures used by Vitter and other Republicans.
Reid, D-Nev., specifically blamed tactics used by Vitter, R-La., to block two of President Barack Obama’s appointees to the Federal Reserve Board.
Reid said that moving forward past Vitter’s blocks will require extra floor time and take away from time that could have been used for the National Flood Insurance Program, called NFIP.
The program is scheduled to lapse after May 31.
In arguing for the time needed to ensure there is a “fully functioning Fed,” Reid said, “one believes” there is not enough time to enact a long-term flood insurance bill. “So we’re in the situation we have to do another short-term extension,” he said.
However, Reid did leave the door open for the long-term bill when Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said that he would attempt to arrange a compromise to limit floor debate and amendments to the five-year NFIP bill so it could be quickly approved.
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., has argued in favor of moving forward with the long-term bill, but both she and Reid agree that adjustments are needed through Senate floor amendments.
Vitter has blocked the Federal Reserve Board appointments using the argument that he does not want to support the “activist” economic policies of the Obama administration.
Vitter vowed to keep up the fight in an email response on Tuesday.
“These two Fed nominations and Fed monetary policy are tremendously important matters,” Vitter stated. “Because they are, and because I have serious concerns with the Fed’s activist, easy-money policies, I’ve been demanding this upcoming Senate debate and vote rather than just rubber-stamping all this with no debate.”
Congress has sustained the flood insurance program by approving six-month extensions.
But Vitter also introduced an additional six-month extension as a backup plan if he cannot get his legislation heard on the floor.
The program allows homeowners and businesses in flood zones that have trouble getting private insurance to obtain policies backed by the federal government.
About 500,000 people in Louisiana participate. The program has been in financial distress with a loss of $18 billion, mostly due to payments made after hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.
If the program lapses, current insurance policies remain in effect but applications cannot move forward.
Vitter has said many real estate closings “came to a screeching halt” in 2010 when the program previously lapsed.
Copyright © 2011, Capital City Press LLC • 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810 • All Rights Reserved