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Senate acts to delay flood insurance hikes

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Bipartisan legislation that would delay flood insurance premium hikes for hundreds of thousands of people living in coastal and low-lying areas cleared its first hurdle in the Senate on Monday.

The 86-13 vote demonstrated that the measure had filibuster-proof support in the chamber, which was likely to pass it in a few days.

The legislation would delay for up to four years premium increases set to phase in next year on homeowners facing whopping premium increases under new flood maps and would allow homeowners with subsidized insurance policies to pass them on to people who buy their homes.

The higher premiums were the result of changes made to the federal flood insurance program less than two years ago - widely praised as long-overdue reforms of the program - that were designed to make it more financially stable and bring insurance rates more in line with the real risk of flooding.

The White House Monday evening issued an official policy statement that failed to endorse the legislation. "Delaying implementation of these reforms would further erode" the program's financial position, the statement said. But it urged relief for economically distressed policyholders.

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