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Flood Insurance: Fractious Election Year Issue for House GOP

One more fractious election year problem for House Republican leaders to grapple with -- flood insurance.

At issue: a bill to undo some premium increases in the National Flood Insurance Program that Congress enacted in 2012. More than 230 House members -- most of them Democrats -- support a bill partially rolling back the premium increases, but House leaders couldn’t get enough votes to pass the bill using a fast-track procedure and a vote was postponed until next week.

House leadership aides on Wednesday played down the significance of the delay and said some technical details were being resolved before the bill comes up for a vote next week.

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The chief House sponsor of the bill is Rep. Michael Grimm, R- N.Y., who is in a competitive re-election race and whose New York City district was devastated by Super Storm Sandy in 2012.

A co-sponsor of the measure, Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said “small changes are being made to ensure passage of the bill and to ensure FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) implements it correctly. This is the next step in providing comprehensive relief to homeowners and businesses. This is an opportunity to put good policy before politics and we are optimistic the legislation will move forward soon.”

Cassidy is running this fall to unseat Sen. Mary Landrieu, the Louisiana Democrat who was a co-sponsor of the Senate-passed bill that takes a different approach to rescinding some premium increases.

The fiscally conservative Club for Growth blasted GOP leaders Wednesday, accusing them of wanting “to stick taxpayers with the bill for higher subsidies to beach-front properties,” and praising Financial Services Committee chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas for opposing the bill.

Club for Growth President Chris Chocola -- himself a former House GOP member from Indiana – said Hensarling “has long advocated for reforming the Flood Insurance program, so it’s no surprise that GOP leaders are refusing to run the bill through his committee, and instead, are negotiating directly with the Democrats.”