WASHINGTON — The Senate passed a farm bill Thursday in an 86-11 vote that includes an amendment to extend the National Flood Insurance Program for another six months.

The amendment, sponsored by Sens. John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy, both Louisiana Republicans, would keep the flood insurance program from lapsing July 31. But the House has not included the amendment in its version of a farm bill, so it would need to be discussed in a conference committee.

“In the absence of reauthorizing legislation, the National Flood Insurance Program will lapse, in the middle of hurricane season, leaving more than 5 million American families and businesses vulnerable,” Kennedy said. “I don’t want people to be scared every time it rains.”

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La.
“I don’t want people to be scared every time it rains," said Sen. John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican who co-sponsored the flood insurance amendment. Bloomberg News

“Louisiana families depend on the National Flood Insurance Program for peace of mind and recovery after disaster,” said Cassidy. “We must preserve this program through hurricane season as we work on a long-term reauthorization that ensures the program is affordable and sustainable.”

Lawmakers have long expressed a desire to enact a flood insurance reform package, but there is significant disagreement on what it should look like, and differences tend to break down along geographic lines.

Efforts to reform the flood insurance program were stalled largely because Congress was prioritizing regulatory relief, which President Trump signed into law in May.

There is still time this year for senators to work on a long-term flood insurance reform bill. But the clock is also ticking on any congressional business as the November midterm elections approach.

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