Senate passes bill to delay flood insurance hikes

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WASHINGTON- Suncoast homeowners could soon catch a break from rising flood insurance premiums.  With a 67-32 vote, the Senate passed a bill to delay the hikes. 

The bill is a response to concerns over changes enacted two years ago to shore up FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program.  The program has required several taxpayer bailouts, and it owes the Treasury Department $24 billion.  FEMA cut subsidies from flood insurance policyholders, causing premiums to skyrocket.  After numerous constituent complaints, lawmakers are working on a delay to the hikes in order to consider alternatives to help the program regain solvency.

The bill now goes to the House, where it has met opposition from Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas.  Hensarling spokesman David Popp says the chairman wants "free-market alternatives" to the government-run flood insurance program.