Congress extended the National Flood Insurance Program through June 14, preventing the federal initiative from expiring on Saturday.
The stopgap bill was passed by the House on Thursday with a fast-track procedure used when members are on recess. It will allow new flood insurance policies to be issued and avoid delays of real estate transactions that depend on the program.
House Democrats secured unanimous consent for quick passage when no Republicans objected. Earlier this week, GOP Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky objected to the extension. The Senate passed the bill, S. 1693, last week.
A separate $19 billion disaster aid bill, also already passed by the Senate, would further extend the flood insurance program through Sept. 30. That bill, H.R. 2157, was blocked Thursday by GOP Rep. John Rose of Tennessee.
“Important issues like this, where we are going to be spending $19 to $20 billion, deserve the full attention of the House,” Rose said in an interview before the vote. However, he said the short-term flood insurance bill is an appropriate use of the fast-track procedure.
Lawmakers have passed 10 short-term flood insurance extensions since 2017 as Republicans and Democrats squabbled over how to restructure the program and how to handle its $20.5 billion in debt to the Treasury department. House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters proposed canceling the debt.
Critics of the program note that Congress canceled $16 billion in flood insurance debt less than two years ago, and they are pushing to change the program to discourage building in flood zones.