Sean Carr of rating agency A.M. Best’s BestWeek and BestWire publications is reporting (subscription required for the link) that both Republican and Democratic leaders of the House Financial Services Committee are calling on members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction – also known as the “Super Committee” – to take up flood insurance reform as part of their plan for long-term deficit reduction.
In separate letters sent by HFSC Chairman Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., and Ranking Member Barney Frank, D-Mass., the leaders noted that adopting the language included in the House-passed reform bill could generate $4.2 billion of new revenues for the National Flood Insurance Program, which is currently some $17.8 billion in debt. Frank’s letter to the committee is available here.
Carr quotes Matt Gannon, assistant vice president of federal affairs for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, as suggesting that while the call for action by the select committee doesn’t necessarily rule out a floor vote on the version of the bill passed by the Senate Banking Committee, ”the House would be justified to not have confidence in the Senate.” He also quotes yours truly on why the priority of those of us who want to see this program reformed remains encouraging Senate leaders to schedule floor time soon.
Bachus’ and Franks’ comments are welcome, but the need for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to schedule a vote is urgent, said R.J. Lehmann, deputy director of the Heartland Institute’s Center on Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate. “There is broad consensus on these common sense, bipartisan solutions for moving toward risk-based pricing and a more sustainable financial structure for the NFIP,” he said.
Separately, in his weekly perspectives column (also behind the A.M. Best paywall,) Carr notes one major advantage of super committee attention:
The current program is authorized through the expiration of a continuing budget resolution on Nov. 18 — one week before the supercommittee is due to issue a report. It may be simply a matter of the calendar. While the House passed a sweeping bipartisan reauthorization bill, a Senate version has yet to see a floor vote.
Any “super” deal, should one be reached, will have one guarantee few bills do: it would get a vote.