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NU Online News Service, Dec.17, 12:25 p.m. EST

WASHINGTON—Procedural roadblocks thrown up by Republicans to stop action on health care legislation in the Senate are putting the National Flood Insurance Program in jeopardy.

The program’s authorization runs out tomorrow, and the fact that the House has recessed until January has placed immense pressure on the Senate to act.

To deal with the issue, the House yesterday passed two bills, one extending the program until Dec. 23 through a continuing resolution, and another extending the current authorization until Feb. 28, 2010 through a provision in the Department of Defense appropriations bill.

But, the Senate must act by midnight tomorrow on the continuing resolution to keep the program in place because Senate rules delay a vote on the Defense Appropriations Act until Saturday, according to comments made yesterday by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., Senate majority leader.

David Sampson, president and chief executive officer of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) urged Congress to extend the NFIP authorization.

“The expiration of the flood insurance program could have severe consequences on the economy and directly impact consumers,” he said in a statement.

“We cannot afford to compound the economic challenges our nation already faces by allowing the NFIP to lapse,” added Mr. Sampson.

“If NFIP expired, real-estate transactions in flood-prone areas could collapse, resulting in even more devastation for the housing market,” he predicted.

Officials of the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies added that the period before Feb. 28 should be used by Congress to complete work on reforming and modernizing the program.

Its original authorization ran out last Sept. 30, and it has been extended several times since. One key problem is an inability of the Senate to agree to the provision proposed in House legislation to add wind damage coverage to the program.

Jimi Grande, NAMIC senior vice president of federal and political affairs, said that, “While it’s important that the National Flood Insurance Program remain in place for the next two months, Congress needs to stop kicking the can down the road and start working on meaningful reforms.”

“The problems facing the NFIP aren’t going away,” he said, “The program is financially unsustainable and failing to address that only makes the problem worse for homeowners, insurers and the American taxpayer.”

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Posted 1:51 PM

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