Congress takes step toward flood insurance fix

3:39 PM, Jan 14, 2014   |    comments
In this Oct. 7, 2013, photo. the U.S. Capitol is reflected during rain in Washington. Americans are finding little they like about President Barack Obama or either political party, according to a new poll that suggests the possibility of a "throw the bums out" mentality in next year's midterm elections. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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TALLAHASSEE, Florida -- Flood insurance relief could be on the way for some homeowners.

Sen. Bill Nelson said late Monday night congressional budget negotiators unveiled a $1.1 trillion government funding bill that includes language to delay some of the premium increases triggered by recent changes to the flood insurance program. 

Sen. Nelson said because legislative leaders from both political parties have agreed to the spending plan, a majority of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle can now be expected to support the measure this week.

"Congress, it seems, is finally hearing the pleas of some of the homeowners," Nelson said in a statement, adding, "This is only a partial solution and there is still work to be done."

A group of lawmakers have been advocating for months for a delay, during which time FEMA would have to study the affordability of flood insurance and re-evaluate the accuracy of new flood maps.

In a nutshell, the budget language would prevent the government from spending any money for the remainder of this fiscal year to enforce higher premiums on homeowners who would see them under new flood maps. Also, FEMA is given 60 days to provide Congress with a report on ways to keep rates more affordable.

"During the delay, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Congress need to go back to the drawing board for a permanent fix to ensure that our neighbors and small business owners do not suffer unconscionable increases," Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, said in a release.

The vote on the bill is expected to pass the House tomorrow, Jan. 15.

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