Congress clears bill to ease flood insurance hikes

March 13

Less than two years after passing major legislation aimed at reforming the government’s much-criticized flood insurance program, Congress on Thursday sent President Obama a bill to scale back many of the resulting big flood insurance premium increases faced by hundreds of thousands of homeowners. The measure also would allow below-market insurance rates to be passed on to people buying homes with taxpayer-subsidized policies.

The measure breezed through the Senate by a 72 to 22 vote. The House passed it last week.

The legislation significantly rewrites a major overhaul of the flood insurance program that passed almost unanimously in 2012. Those 2012 changes were aimed at weaning hundreds of thousands of homeowners off of subsidized rates and required extensive updating of the flood maps used to set premiums. But its implementation has stirred anxiety among many homeowners along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and in flood plains, many of whom are threatened with unaffordable rate increases.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said the White House has indicated Obama will sign the measure despite earlier administration reservations about a Senate-passed bill that would have delayed implementation of the 2012 law.

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