Waters calls on FEMA to continue offering flood insurance despite shutdown

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WASHINGTON — After the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced it would not issue or renew flood insurance policies during the government shutdown, a top Democratic lawmaker is urging the agency to reconsider its decision.

The decision by FEMA, announced Wednesday, comes after Congress voted last week to extend the National Flood Insurance program through May 31, 2019.

“Despite this clear directive from Congress, FEMA has announced that it will not issue or renew NFIP policies during the government shutdown,” said Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who will chair the House Financial Services Committee when Democrats take control of the chamber Jan. 3. “I urge FEMA to immediately reconsider this harmful and incorrect interpretation of its authority and resume its important work of providing flood insurance to families across the country.”

Lawmakers have long expressed interest in passing flood insurance reform legislation, but disagreements on what is should look like have broken down along geographic lines, stalling action. Industry groups were also caught off guard by FEMA’s decision.

“FEMA’s unexpected decision will complicate and delay loan closings for borrowers who are required to carry flood insurance and seek NFIP coverage for as long as the government shutdown continues,” said Rob Nichols, president and chief executive of the American Bankers Association. “This result is in direct conflict with what Congress and the President intended when legislation was passed and signed into law last week to extend the NFIP’s authorization for six months. FEMA’s failure to inform Congress and the public earlier that such action would be taken despite the passage of the extension is distressing. We hope that FEMA will reconsider this unfortunate action immediately.”

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