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Senate passes bill to delay flood insurance hikes

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— The Senate has passed a bill to delay premium hikes for years on hundreds of thousands of homeowners who buy flood insurance from the federal government.

The 67-32 vote reflects widespread concern about changes enacted two years ago to shore up the program's finances. The changes are producing sky-high insurance rates that are unaffordable for many homeowners in flood-prone areas whose insurance has historically been subsidized by the government and other policyholders.

The bill was muscled through the Senate after angry constituents, the real estate and home builder lobbies inundated lawmakers with complaints.

Opponents of the bill say it unravels long-sought reforms of the flood insurance program, which has required numerous taxpayer bailouts and owes $24 billion to the Treasury Department as a result.

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