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Senate OKs Bill to Rescind Flood Insurance Premium Hikes

Image: Breezy Point residents return after fire and storm
Facing west on Breezy Point Blvd. around Beach 215th St. on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012, in Breezy Point, N.Y. Superstorm Sandy inundated Breezy Point with flood waters and a fire during the height of the storm destroyed over 100 homes there. (David Friedman / NBC News)David Friedman / NBC News

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The Senate Thursday approved a bill to undo some of flood insurance premium increases that Congress enacted less than two years ago. The vote was 72 to 22.

The bill was passed by the House on March 4 on a vote of 306 to 91. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada brought it to the Senate floor with little advance notice Thursday just as the Senate was about to leave for a week's recess.

The Senate disregarded protests from Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah who complained that the House-passed bill was rushed to the Senate floor, was not considered in committee, and was “a bill that we have never seen before.”

“This bill corrects the unintended consequence of denying liquidity to coastal Americans in their housing” and “the unintended consequence of people not buying insurance and putting themselves and this country at greater risk in those areas that are prone to floods,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.

Isakson had co-sponsored a different bill which the Senate passed in January to rescind the premium increases.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill wil have no net effect on the National Flood Insurance Program since the cost of cancelling the premium increases would be offset by an annual surcharge of $250 for policies covering non-residential properties or second homes and $25 for all other coverage.

The enactment of the bill was a victory for two Louisiana lawmakers who will face each other on the ballot this fall: Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu and Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy, who is trying to unseat her. Cassidy was co-sponsor of the House bill and Landrieu had worked for months to undo the 2012 Biggert-Waters reform bill which led to premium increases.

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