"Unfortunately, as has happened around here more often than I'd like, we haven't been able to reach an agreement because of really a small group of Republicans are stopping us from doing this. So my options are really very limited at this stage," Reid said. "I can file cloture and put at risk our ability to complete action on student loans and the transportation bill, and that's what it would do. Because if I file cloture we would have to have a cloture vote on this thing on Thursday."
Reid noted that other bills had fast-approaching deadlines: the student loan interest bill with a deadline of July 1 and the transportation bill on June 30.
"The flood bill is a very important piece of legislation. It's not something we have to complete the day after tomorrow, but it's something we have to complete a month from now," Reid said. "So I could file cloture and put at risk these important pieces of legislation, the transportation bill, student loans — puts everything at risk. Or I can give supporters of this bill time to come to an agreement on a limiting number of amendments."
So senators will have another day or so to work out an agreement over amendments to the five-year flood insurance bill, Reid said.
"I really believe that the right thing to do is to give the people who want this thing to be passed, Democrats and Republicans, people who support this extremely important piece of legislation, a day or two to get this thing done," Reid said. "I hope they can, I really honestly do, so I'm not filing cloture tonight as I had originally contemplated and I hope that my Republican colleagues will work with us to get this thing done."
Earlier in the day Reid promised to block an amendment by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) saying the Senate believes life begins at conception.
"I'm told last night that one of our Republican senators wants to offer an amendment — listen to this one — wants to offer an amendment on when life begins," Reid said earlier on Tuesday. "There will not be a vote on that on flood insurance. We'll either do flood insurance with amendments that deal with flood insurance, or we won't do it, we'll have an extension."
Amendments have been a major hurdle for recent legislation in the chamber. Bills have only passed after the Senate agreed on which amendments, and how many, to attach to legislation.