The Associated Press
Hundreds of thousands of homeowners in coastal and flood-prone areas would win protection from sharply higher federal flood insurance premiums under legislation muscled through the Senate on Thursday after angry constituents inundated Capitol Hill with complaints.
The 67-32 vote reflects widespread alarm about changes enacted two years ago to shore up the program's finances. In many cases, the changes produced unexpected, sky-high insurance rates that are unaffordable for many homeowners in flood-prone areas whose insurance has historically been subsidized by the government and other policyholders.
"Something is just terribly wrong when homeowners are more worried about raging flood premiums than they are about raging floods," Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., said.
The bill would delay for up to four years huge premium increases that are supposed to phase in next year and beyond under new and updated government flood maps. It also would allow homeowners to pass below-cost policies on to people who buy their homes. People who have recently bought homes and face sharp, immediate jumps in their premiums would see those increases rolled back.
Opponents of the bill say it unravels long-sought reforms of the flood insurance program, which has required numerous taxpayer bailouts and owes $24 billion to the Treasury Department as a result.
The measure goes to the GOP-controlled House, where there's tension between supporters of the Senate approach and some top Republicans who stand behind the 2012 changes.
how they voted
A "yes" vote is a vote to pass the bill.
Mark Warner, D, Yes
Tim Kaine, D, Yes
Richard Burr, R, Yes
Kay Hagan, D, Yes