ST. PAUL—With Hurricane Gustav slamming into the Gulf Coast today, the schedule here at the Republican National Convention has been upended today and official events have been canceled. But lobbying, even for the property insurance industry (which will surely be paying out a fair amount of claims in coming months), goes on.
We bumped into David Sampson, a former deputy Commerce secretary under George W. Bush and president of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, early this afternoon. He seemed very much on task and undistracted by Gustav.
"Obviously, the atmosphere here is much more subdued because of the landfall of the hurricane," he said of St. Paul compared with Denver. "It’s a fundamentally different environment, but our purpose is to have meaningful discussions with key members of Congress, and we’ve had that opportunity already this morning."
Mr. Sampson’s main task here and in Denver, he said, is to advocate for Congress to pass a bill that reauthorizes the National Flood Insurance Program, which allows residents in low-lying areas (including parts of New York City) normally avoided by insurance companies to buy federally-backed insurance.
"The most important [issue] from our industry perspective is, ironically enough, reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program, which expires Sept. 30. The House has passed a bill, the Senate has passed a bill," he said. ”Once the party’s over, they have to go back to work [and reconcile their bills]."