WASHINGTON — House Republican leaders squashed an attempt Tuesday by Rep. Maxine Waters, the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, to force a vote on a Senate-passed bill reforming flood insurance.

The Senate bill, which was passed 67 to 32 last week, would delay for several years flood insurance premiums hikes that are designed to fix the National Flood Insurance Program. The measure has 182 co-sponsors in the House but drew objections from Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, who said the premiums are necessary to put the program on a sounder financial footing.

While acknowledging there are legitimate concerns about the transition to higher rates, Rep. Hensarling claims it would be a mistake to "walk away from the goal of an actuarially sound program." 

However, housing and banking groups claim the higher premiums are unaffordable for many homeowners and warned they could disrupt real estate markets and lead to foreclosures.

"I am extremely disappointed that nearly every House Republican voted to block consideration of bipartisan legislation that would delay increases in flood insurance premiums," Waters said in a press release. 

"However, I am more concerned for the hundreds of thousands of middle class families who are struggling to figure out how they will afford flood insurance costs that have increased by, in some cases, tens of thousands of dollars. Thanks to today’s obstruction, their pain will be prolonged."

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