WASHINGTON — The Senate late Wednesday night approved a House of Representatives-passed extension to the National Flood Insurance Program, which expired June 1, enabling insurers to issue and renew policies as soon as President Barack Obama signs the legislation, which was expected to be soon.
"This extension is a short-term reprieve from the uncertainties that were created when the National Flood Insurance Program was allowed to lapse," said Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss. "My offices have heard from homeowners, businesses, lenders and others in Mississippi who expressed their concerns about being unable to access flood insurance protection."
The flood insurance program, administered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, provides federally backed flood insurance to homeowners and businesses. Congressional efforts to restructure the debt-ridden program have failed so far, so lawmakers opted for a short-term extension.
"It is completely unacceptable for the Congress to allow flood insurance authorization to lapse during hurricane season," said Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss. Hurricane season began June 1.
The bill extends the flood insurance program through Sept. 30 and makes it retroactive to June 1, enabling policyholders to have continuous coverage. Since March, the program's authorization has lapsed three times.
After failing to get agreement in the Senate on a comprehensive package of tax breaks and unemployment benefits, Senate Democratic leaders decided to submit the House-passed short-term extension Wednesday night, which passed on a voice vote with no opposition.
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