This week, Senate Democrats will try once again to pass the extension of unemployment benefits that was repeatedly blocked by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and the Senate Republicans last month. In addition to the more than 200,000 people who lose out on extended jobless benefits every week because of the GOP’s obstruction, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) also expired when the Senate failed to act, just as devastating floods hit large swaths of the Northeast.
And the NFIP’s expiration also had other consequences, as thousands of home closings have been delayed because buyers cannot obtain flood insurance:
As a result, thousands of home sale closings have been canceled or postponed in the past two weeks as cagey homebuyers feared buying homes without the insurance policy…The impact on the already fragile housing market is too early to be understood but experts say it is unlikely to be positive. The National Association of Realtors, at the request of Fox News, estimated that each day the program is dormant, 1,400 closings are adversely hit.
“When Congress returns we will be waiting on the steps for them,” said Lucien Savant, spokesman for the National Association of Realtors. Joe Ory, President of the New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors, meanwhile, called the delay “an absolute catastrophe.”
Real estate closings across the country have been disrupted by the delay, which results in much more than a loss of time. As Ory pointed out, one homebuyer moving from Houston to New Orleans has to continue paying fees on the property she is purchasing, costing thousands of dollars, but can’t move. “It makes me crazy,” said Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT). “The House acted on an extension and the Senate failed. It’s very serious. I’ve gotten all kinds of calls from realtors.”
Democrats plan to hold a cloture vote on an extension package today, but will need at least one Republican to support the effort if it’s going to move forward. However, the GOP doesn’t seem to be moved by the very real effects its obstruction is having. For instance, last week Coburn said that his blocking benefits was okay, because it only affects a “relatively small amount of people.”