What It Was
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (NDAA, H.R. 2810) passed the House (356-70) and Senate (by voice vote) this week. The 21st Century Flood Reform Act (H.R. 2874) passed the House (237-189).
Why It Matters
Activities of the U.S. military, ranging from understanding our ocean and providing disaster relief to enforcing laws and providing medical assistance, are authorized each year by the NDAA. Many provisions relate to the safety and security of our nation and our military, making this a must-pass bill that has been passed 55 years in a row.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which aims to reduce the impact of flooding on structures, is set to expire December 8. Not reauthorizing NFIP would result in serious consequences for the $1.25 trillion in properties it insures.
NDAA: The NDAA authorizes activities for the Department of Defense and the national security activities of the Department of Energy.
The passed bill, which is a compromise between House and Senate versions, outlines areas of focus for the military, including the Arctic and Antarctic (by procuring one heavy icebreaker), the effects of climate change (by requiring research and a report on bases most impacted by sea level rise, wildfires, flooding, and melting ice), and the need to retain scientists (by incentivizing inventions with commercial value).
The policy bill includes $692.1 billion in discretionary funding for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018; however, defense spending is capped at $549 billion by the Budget Control Act (PL 111-25). For the full authorized amount to be appropriated, Congress would have to reach a deal to raise those spending caps.
NFIP: The NFIP, which is operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), provides flood insurance coverage for homes and businesses, encourages flood risk reduction, and identifies and maps flood hazards. While a series of severe storms and flooding have caused the program to go into debt, $16 billion of that was canceled in the most recent supplemental disaster aid package following this summer’s major hurricanes.
The five-year reauthorization would offer some resources to improve and modernize flood mapping and provide local control over flood maps. Additionally, FEMA would be authorized to make mitigation and flood insurance grants.
NDAA: “I am pleased that the conference report includes the Modernizing Government Technology Act, which I helped author, to upgrade our technology systems to make them more secure, efficient, and effective. In addition, this legislation recognizes the inherent national security danger from climate change and will increase pay for our troops.” – Representative Steny Hoyer (MD-5)
NFIP: “More funding for mapping technology and pre-disaster mitigation efforts must be adequately addressed to help assess future flood risks, which will result in lower rates for South Florida and across the country.” – Representative Carlos Curbelo (FL-26)
“This bill leaves behind the best reform ideas from both political parties, like better mapping, as well as mitigation. Those who have lived through natural disasters know you can’t stop the catastrophic force of Mother Nature, but you can prepare.” – Representative Charlie Crist (FL-13)
The NDAA, having passed both chambers, awaits the president’s signature to become law.
The Senate has introduced three NFIP reauthorization bills, which have not been marked up by the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. If the program is not reauthorized by December 8, (an extension of the original September 30 deadline), another short-term extension will be needed.
Find Out More
Related coverage from the Consortium for Ocean Leadership
- September’s Congressional Wrap Up
- Stop Gap Measure Saves The Day: No October Government Shutdown, Disaster Relief Approved
- Congress Approves National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2017
- National Defense Authorization Act Passes House After Days Of Debate