The Senate has finally passed a National Flood Insurance Program extension bill, which increases the chances that Congress will be able to avoid a June 30 shutdown of the program.The bill (S. 2238) extends the NFIP for five years and creates a new $40 million pilot program to reduce the cost of insurance claims on properties that are repeatedly hit by floods. Homeowners who refuse federal buyouts or other forms of assistance to shore up, elevate, or move their properties will see their flood insurance premiums increase dramatically. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., delayed passage of the bill until the sponsors agreed to several changes, including a provision that allows state and local governments to opt out of the mitigation pilot program. The House passed a similar flood insurance extension bill (H.R. 253) last summer. Lender groups are hoping the House will accept and pass the Senate version so it can be sent to the president before the end of the month. The Federal Emergency Management Agency runs out of authority to issue new flood insurance policies on June 30.

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