Kingston urges swift action in the Senate to restart important program.
With the support and backing of area Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA), the U.S. House of Representatives today voted to extend the National Flood Insurance Program through September 30, 2010. The program, which lapsed on June 1, allows property and business owners as well as renters to purchase insurance against flood losses.
Flood insurance is required on all mortgages for homes lying in the 100 year flood plain which encompasses a majority of Kingston's district.
"Today was one more step by the House to try to address our flood insurance problem," said Kingston. "If we do not extend federal flood insurance then people who are trying to buy houses along coastal Georgia will not be able to get loans to buy it thus we are going to have a further delay in our economic recovery."
The program, which has widespread and bipartisan support, had been held up in costly legislative package that would extend tax cuts and social spending programs. It has been stalled for more than 8 weeks in the Senate because of concerns of its impact on the growing national debt.
While Kingston shares concerns over the cost of the entire package, he has advocated uncoupling the flood insurance program from the broader package citing the active hurricane season expected this year and the program's cost savings.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates the program reduced flood damage by $1 billion each year. Additionally, buildings constructed in compliance with NFIP building standards suffer approximately 80 percent less damage annually than those not built in compliance.
Calls for separating the flood insurance package have been rebuffed until now because the program has widely been seen as a "sweetner" -- a provision used to lure votes for an otherwise unpopular bill.
"I urge the Senate to act swiftly to renew this program and ensure that anyone living in a floodplain has the protection they need," Kingston said. "We cannot allow this important program to be caught in a game of carrot and stick politics. Without renewing it, Congress will leave the American economy vulnerable to a body blow it cannot afford."
Of primary concern to Kingston is the 2010 hurricane season which is expected to be a very active season according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The agency estimates there will be 14-23 named tropical storms, of which 8-14 will develop into hurricanes and 3-7 could develop into major hurricanes, of Category 3 or higher.
While Kingston views today's vote as an important step -- he pledged to continue working for a lasting solution to ensure the program is not allowed to lapse repeatedly in the future.
"This vote provides a near-term solution but we need to find a way to free this important program from the legislative logjam," Kingston said. "Until we do so, we leave ourselves vulnerable to devastating storm damage and uncertainty in the market."