Senate extends flood insurance program hours before deadline

Senate extends flood insurance program hours before deadline
© Greg Nash

The Senate on Tuesday cleared a short-term extension of the National Flood Insurance Program hours before funding for the program is set to expire.  

Senators voted 86-12 on the legislation, which would extend the program through November. Funding for the program is set to expire at midnight. 

The bill cleared the House last week and now heads to President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump threatens ex-intel official's clearance, citing comments on CNN Protesters topple Confederate monument on UNC campus Man wanted for threatening to shoot Trump spotted in Maryland MORE's desk. 

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It briefly looked like the Senate would not be able to meet the Tuesday deadline when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnell15 senators miss votes despite McConnell's criticism of absentees Overnight Health Care: Azar defends approach on drug rebates | Trump presses Senate to act quickly on opioid crisis | Kentucky governor's Medicaid lawsuit tossed Dem senator introduces proposal to rein in Trump on security clearances MORE (R-Ky.) was forced to file cloture on the House legislation, which could have dragged it out later into the week. 

But McConnell canceled the procedural vote on Monday night and instead scheduled a final vote on the short-term extension for Tuesday, meaning the bill will be sent to the White House before the midnight deadline. 

Twelve GOP senators voted against the short-term extension. Conservatives had balked at the straight extension arguing the program needs to be reformed because it's in debt.  

In the wake of significant damage caused by hurricanes and flooding in recent years, the program was in debt by roughly $30 billion as of last fall, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

GOP Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway Lee2020 hopefuls skeptical of criminal justice deal with Trump Sentencing reform deal heats up, pitting Trump against reliable allies Senate gets to work in August — but many don’t show up MORE (Utah) blasted his colleagues for "planning to rubber stamp" an extension of the program in its "dysfunctional status quo." He tried to pass legislation last week from GOP Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (La.) to extend the flood insurance program through January but Lee wanted to add a $2.5 million cap on flood insurance, and Kennedy objected.

Kennedy separately warned that it would be “down-to-the-marrow stupid” to let the program expire. 

"We need to reform this program, but we also need to keep it alive through the end of hurricane season. People have been living near the water since Moby Dick was a minnow. ... A reauthorization gives us time to make meaningful changes without scaring 5 million Americans half to death," Kennedy added in a statement.