Senate Again Rejects Bill Containing Flood Insurance Program Restart

June 18, 2010

The U.S. Senate yesterday again voted down a legislative package on jobless benefits, Medicare payments to doctors and business tax breaks that also contains reauthorization of the nation’s flood insurance program.

Despite reducing the overall cost of the package, Democrats were unable to muster the 60-vote supermajority needed in the face of solid opposition by Republicans. The vote was 56 to 40.

The bill would add an estimated $55 billion to the federal deficit over 10 years compared to about $80 billion for a version voted down earlier this week. It seeks to extend unemployment insurance and tax breaks for businesses while jettisoning a 20 percent pay cut in payments to doctors treating Medicare patients. It would raise taxes on investment managers and raise the tax for the oil spill liability fund.

Senate Republicans have opposed adding to the deficit. Democrats have argued that the government spending is needed to bolster the economy.

The bill has already passed the House.

The National Flood Insurance Program has been unable to issue new or renewal policies since it was shut down May 31, although it is still paying claims. It is the fourth time in the past year that the program has been interrupted due to the failure of Congress to reauthorize it for an extended period.

Insurance carriers and agents have been urging Congress to pass a long-term reauthorization.

The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America sent a letter to the leadership of the Congress warning that “lapses in this program cause confusion and leave many homeowners and small businesses unprotected during a delicate economic period and a dangerous time of the year.”

June 1 was the first day of the 2010 hurricane season which weather forecasters have predicted could be very active.

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