WASHINGTON – An $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill expected to be approved by Congress this week will delay hikes in flood insurance premiums, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan said Tuesday.
Buchanan, the sponsor of a separate measure to delay the hikes, said in a news release the spending bill bars the Federal Emergency Management Agency from using its 2014 discretionary funding to implement the higher insurance premiums for existing policyholders who, due to remapping, find themselves below elevation and facing increased premiums.
“Hundreds of thousands of Floridians are experiencing untenable rate increases that threaten to wash away property values and push people out of their homes,” Buchanan said.
Florida has more federally-backed flood insurance policies than any state, and of the more than 109,000 policyholders in Buchanan's district, almost 79,000 will benefit from the delay in premium increases. “This bill will provide immediate relief for most policyholders while providing time for Congress to work on a permanent solution that reforms the nation’s flood insurance program," Buchanan said. Florida holds 37 percent of the nation’s 5.6 million flood policies.
Buchanan is the co-author of House legislation, H.R. 3693, to delay flood insurance rate hikes while ensuring the completion of an affordability study by FEMA.
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., also touted the delay.
“Congress, it seems, is finally hearing the pleas of some of the homeowners," Nelson said in a statement Tuesday, adding, "This is only a partial solution and there is still work to be done."