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House Acts To Overhaul Flood Insurance Program

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Houses are seen submerged under water September 9, 2005 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Getty Images)

Houses are seen submerged under water September 9, 2005 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Getty Images)

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LANSING (WWJ/AP) – Congress is trying to restore new fiscal life to a four-decade-old federal flood insurance program that was nearly sunk by Katrina and other 2005 hurricanes.

The House on Tuesday voted 406-22 to extend the National Flood Insurance Program for five years and carry out changes, such as more realistic premium rates, to restore solvency to the agency that now owes almost $18 billion dollars to the federal Treasury.

Michigan Republican Congresswoman Candice Miller is against the program.

“Why in the world is the federal government in the flood insurance business? Really, I do not understand it. I don’t think anyone should be surprised to learn that the federal government is not a very good insurance agent and that they run a terrible insurance program,” Miller said.

The program, a branch of FEMA that provides insurance in flood-prone areas where it is not available in the private insurance market, has been reeling in recent years both because of the huge costs of Katrina and the inability of Congress to act on needed changes.

The bill, which has the support of the Barack Obama administration, now goes to the Senate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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