Wednesday, February 26, 2014

House Vote on H.R. 3370 (as amended) put off for now...

Alex Leary, Times Washington Bureau Chief
February 26, 2014

WASHINGTON — The House on Wednesday put off a vote on a bill that would reverse steep flood insurance rate increases, as pressure built from opponents and Democratic supports sought a number of changes.
House Speaker John Boehner announced during a news conference that the legislation had encountered "unintended consequences" and said a vote will not happen this week, as planned.
Boehner did not elaborate but was hopeful it could come up next week.
But the bill — the outlines of which only surfaced late last week — would have had to pass by supermajority because it bypassed normal order, and there were doubts the votes were there.
A number of conservative groups had urged members to vote against the bill, saying 2012 reforms now being targeted are necessary to shore up the National Flood Insurance Program and phase out government subsidies. Democrats in favor of a fix were pushing for changes as well.
Advocates say they are seeking a more lasting remedy than a bill that passed the Senate and would have delayed major changes for four years.
"We have carefully built a coalition and drafted a solid proposal that has garnered widespread support," said Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., a lead sponsor. "Now, small changes are being made to ensure passage of the bill and to ensure FEMA implements it correctly. ... This is an opportunity to put good policy before politics and we are optimistic the legislation will move forward soon."
The plan would eliminates a provision of that 2012 law that said subsidized rates disappear when a person sells a primary home, which has stymied the real estate market. But going forward, rates could still rise by an average of 15 percent a year.
It also reinstates grandfathered flood insurance rates that would go away under new FEMA flood maps; provides a refund for people who purchased a home since 2012 and had to pay higher rates; and calls on FEMA to complete within two years a study on the affordability of phasing in more actuarially sound insurance premiums.
To address the insolvency of the National Flood Insurance Program, it calls for a $25 annual assessment on primary residence policies covered by the program, and about $250 for businesses and secondary residences.

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