The Senate’s vote Tuesday to forgive $16 billion in debt owed by the National Flood Insurance Program gives a much-needed boost for NFIP as it faces large payouts from recent hurricanes. Packaged with other disaster aid appropriations, the bill now goes to President Trump, who is expected to sign.
NFIP has struggled to stay solvent in the face of multibillion-dollar flood insurance losses in recent years, including $16.3 billion from Hurricane Katrina and $8.6 billion from Superstorm Sandy. Prior to Hurricane Harvey, the program was already nearly $25 billion in debt to the U.S. Treasury, with a $30 billion dollar borrowing limit. Passage of H.R. 2266 allows the program to continue paying claims in the near term, but does not implement any long-term reforms to NFIP. Nor does it extend the life of the program, which is set to expire before the end of the year absent congressional re-authorization. But Tuesday’s 82-17 vote in the Senate suggests that there is strong bipartisan support to maintain the coverage provided by the program, with or without a long-term fix.