Our Views: A huge win in House

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- During a stop in Gonzales, Rep. Bill Cassidy speaks to the Capital Region Homebuilders Association about federal flood insurance rates and other topics of interest.
Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- During a stop in Gonzales, Rep. Bill Cassidy speaks to the Capital Region Homebuilders Association about federal flood insurance rates and other topics of interest.

With a tremendous victory for the Louisiana delegation in the U.S. House, a new bill would repeal the drastic and unaffordable increases in costs for the National Flood Insurance Program.

The House passed the bill 306-91, and now it returns to the Senate, which passed the original and significant bill to revise the NFIP rate increases. We know that Louisiana’s senators, Mary Landrieu and David Vitter, will be among those pushing for a final measure to be sent to President Barack Obama that concurs in the House amendments.

Landrieu, a Democrat, has said the president is committed not to oppose a congressional resolution of the problems caused by a 2012 law that drastically revised NFIP rates and procedures.

Those issues had serious repercussions for real estate markets in every coastal state, but in Louisiana it was not just a matter of beach houses: Here, thousands of homes and businesses have to have flood insurance and the rates under the new law would have been catastrophic to many middle-class families.

It is a measure of how badly the Federal Emergency Management Agency handled the new NFIP law that senators were able to get 67 votes out of 100 to change it, and now the House has followed with a thumping bipartisan majority ­— and that’s pretty rare these days.

As the battle shifted from Senate to House, there were major policy and political disputes to resolve. Fiscal conservatives in the GOP caucus worried about the impact on the budget, but the unworkable nature of the well-intended 2012 law won the day.

It was a signal effort by Louisiana lawmakers to make it happen.

There is a lot of credit to go around in the delegation, including U.S. Reps. Steve Scalise, R-Metairie, and Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans. But the bill’s passage was particularly important for U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy of Baton Rouge, one of the Republican candidates challenging Landrieu in this fall’s Senate election.

Cassidy made it a point to acknowledge the cooperation of both Landrieu and Vitter in the final compromises that made the House bill possible. That sort of gracious note shows that it was a bipartisan effort, one that can resolve a significant problem for Louisiana.

We commend all involved and look forward to a prompt resolution of what really was, for many property owners, a sudden crisis in NFIP rates.