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House moving toward action on flood insurance

WASHINGTON — The GOP-led House could take up a bill as early as Feb. 24 to delay increases in flood insurance premiums approved under a 2012 law, Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Wednesday.

It is unclear how much the legislation – which is still being drafted — would reflect a similar bill that passed in the Senate last month. That measure would delay hikes in federal food insurance rates for up to four years for hundreds of thousands of US property owners, including tens of thousands in Massachusetts.

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The Senate bill would also postpone the use of new official flood maps that would significantly expand zones that are designated as prone to floods. Members of the Massachusetts delegation have argued the maps failed to accurately account for New England flooding patterns.

Representative William R. Keating, the Massachusetts Democrat, said he is optimistic that a growing coalition of Republicans and Democrats will move the issue forward in the House. The legislation passed the Senate 67 to 32, with support from members of both parties.

“This is highly unusual bipartisan support on an issue of some controversy,” Keating said. “It’s rare in the last two Congresses.”

In January, Boehner indicated the House may pursue modest changes to the 2012 law that imposed the rate increases.

The 2012 measure was backed by the entire Massachusetts delegation, including the eight members in office today, and most Washington lawmakers. At the time, Congress was trying to plug financial shortfalls in the federal flood insurance program, now $24 billion in debt.

Kimberly Railey can be reached at kimberly.railey@globe.com.
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