Flood insurance extension quickly approved in the Senate

"If it were to expire, new housing construction would stall, in fact in many places it would come to a halt," Reid said on the floor. "Real estate transactions would come to a screaming halt. Taxpayers would be on the hook for future disasters. This is something we have no choice, we have to get it done."

The 60-day extension came in the form of a bill offered by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), which was approved without debate.

"Anyone has anything to say about this, you can put it in the record," Reid said with a smile just before the vote.

Reid thanked Johnson and Banking Committee ranking member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) for working on the issue, as well as Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), David Vitter (R-La.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Chuck Schumer (R-N.Y.).

The House has already passed a 5-year extension of the NFIP, the federal program that offers the only flood insurance available to thousands of communities around the country that sit on flood plains. The House bill includes several reforms aimed at helping the NFIP work down the nearly $18 billion in debt it has racked up, including by increasing insurance premiums.

Coburn has sought to include similar reforms in the Senate bill, but the Senate was unable to work out an agreement on the longer-term bill by the end of May.

The House last week approved a 30-day extension, but is likely to accept the Senate bill next week, since the Senate will be out and the NFIP program expires next Thursday.

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