WASHINGTON – House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday that the GOP-controlled House won’t take up legislation aimed at neutering a 2012 overhaul of the federal flood insurance program that is hitting homeowners with big premium hikes.
Owners of vacation homes, frequently flooded properties and businesses are losing their subsidized insurance rates over time under the revamped program. Others can keep their subsidies but can’t pass them on when selling their houses, which has caused a disruption in home sales.
Homeowners whose properties are not considered to be in much danger of flooding face the prospect of huge premium increases when the Federal Emergency Management Agency updates flood maps. A provision aimed at delaying rate increases for these “grandfathered” properties is included in the $1.1 trillion government-wide spending bill that’s advancing quickly through Congress.
Asked about the legislation during a hallway exchange with The Associated Press in the Capitol complex, Boehner said “we’re not going to do that” and added he’s willing to consider more modest, unspecified changes to the flood program.
In a statement issued later by his office, the Ohio Republican said: “While I don’t support repealing the 2012 law, we’re listening to members and the alternative ideas they are offering on this issue. There have been ongoing discussions with members, and the House may consider changes to the law in the weeks and months ahead that both help homeowners and protect taxpayers.”
The issue is of great concern to lawmakers representing coastal areas. The Senate will shortly take up legislation to delay major elements of the law, and the legislation is expected to pass easily. Boehner’s position and opposition from the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, means the legislation face an uphill climb in the House.