After months of backroom negotiations, the Senate Banking Committee has at last filed its conference report for the flood insurance reform bill it passed back in September. The report basically punts on several proposed tweaks to the committee’s bill – including Sen. Roger Wicker’s wind-versus-water amendment and Sen. Thad Cochran’s proposal to exempt so-called “residual risk” properties from the requirement to purchase flood insurance – which will likely have to be hashed out when the bill moves to a floor vote.
We still don’t have much clarity on when a Senate floor vote will be scheduled. The National Flood Insurance Program is next set to expire on Dec. 16, with the expiration of the current continuing resolution. Both houses are believed to be preparing another continuing resolution that would fund the federal government through the end of the current fiscal year, but continuing debates about extension of the payroll tax cut leave that plan somewhat unclear.
While the CR would likely fund the government through Sept. 30, 2012, the word on Capitol Hill is that the flood program’s extension would run out earlier than that. Senate leaders are discussing a target NFIP expiration for May 2012, while House Republicans prefer an even earlier expiration, perhaps at the end of March 2012. Given that the September before a presidential election is a particularly bad time for taking up floor legislation, an earlier expiration could actually aid the goal of getting a vote on a long-term reform bill sometime this coming spring.