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 TrumpOmar, Muslim Democrats decry Islamophobia amid death threats On The Money — Powell pivots as inflation rises Trump cheers CNN's Cuomo suspension 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 McConnellSenate nearing deal on defense bill after setback On The Money — Powell pivots as inflation rises Schumer eyeing Build Back Better vote as soon as week of Dec. 13 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 LeeCongress's goal in December: Avoid shutdown and default No deal in sight as Congress nears debt limit deadline Republicans struggle to save funding for Trump's border wall 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.