Following a massive advocacy blitz by the National Association of REALTORS®—which included a rare nationwide call to action—Congress passed a last-minute spending deal Saturday to avert a government shutdown and extend the authority of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
The bipartisan agreement funds the government at 2023 levels through Nov. 17, ensuring pay for federal workers and the military, as well as extensions for other vital programs like the Federal Aviation Administration.
NAR launched a call to action Friday night as Congress careened toward the first government shutdown in almost five years. In the urgent message, the association mobilized its 1.5 million members to contact Congress and warn of the dangers of letting the NFIP lapse during a shutdown. By Saturday morning, tens of thousands of Realtors® nationwide had already answered the call.
“This is an all-hands-on-deck call for action. Join your fellow REALTORS® in urging Congress to extend the NFIP, preventing disruption to real estate markets and protecting families from the costliest and most common natural disaster in the country: flooding,” the message read. “A lapse of the NFIP would disrupt the purchase of flood insurance in more than 20,000 communities nationwide. Just one inch of flooding can cause $25,000 in structural damage, and without access to flood insurance, families must rely on severely limited federal disaster aid.”
The national effort capped a week of action by NAR’s advocacy team. NAR issued a targeted call to action on the NFIP earlier in the week through its Federal Political Coordinator program. The program aims to reach and educate all 535 members of Congress with an urgent message on the NFIP’s critical role in the economy.
“You don’t have to look any further than the heart-breaking flooding in New York this weekend to see how important this program is to every American community,” says NAR Chief Advocacy Officer Shannon McGahn. “An extended lapse in NFIP authority could affect 1,300 real estate transactions per day. Our message got through.
“The NFIP’s authority to write flood insurance has been extended 25 times since 2017 alone,” McGahn adds. “This is largely due to NAR’s advocacy efforts on NFIP.”
NAR also issued an urgent primer to members detailing how a shutdown will affect the real estate economy, which makes up nearly 20% of the U.S. economy. The primer looks at how a range of programs are affected, from EPA wetlands designations to rural housing programs and the EB-5 Visa program.
“We are thankful Congress came together in a bipartisan way to avert this shutdown, but our work isn’t over. This is a short-term extension, and we will be right back here in November,” McGahn says. “We are keeping our call for action active and will continue to work with Congressional leaders during the next 45 days to ensure NFIP is reauthorized for a longer period of time and does not suffer a harmful lapse. We have been through this before, and one thing is certain: In a shutdown, no one wins.”