WASHINGTON — Backers of legislation that would gut a flood insurance law causing sharp rate increases announced Wednesday that they have secured enough support to pass the bill.
But getting a vote is a higher hurdle — with a top GOP official saying the House will consider a different version than what the Senate already approved.
"The Senate bill irresponsibly removes much needed reforms and imposes additional costs on taxpayers," Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia said in a statement. "The House will act to protect the flood insurance program but also protect homeowners from unreasonable and unrealistic premium increases."
Cantor said legislation would be considered the week of Feb. 24. He did not provide specifics on what changes the legislation would incorporate.
The Senate recently passed a bill that delays provisions of the 2012 Biggert-Waters law for four years. The proposal always faced resistance in the House. GOP leaders said it went too far in erasing reforms to the debt-strapped National Flood Insurance Program.
There is political jockeying as the issue has become a source of outrage for voters in Florida, New York and other states.
On Wednesday, Democratic advocates for the Senate bill announced they have 231 House sponsors, enough to pass.
"The reality is this: if not for obstruction by Republican leadership, this bill could pass the House and be signed into law today," said Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif. "I again urge Republican leadership to immediately take up this bipartisan solution."
But then came Cantor's statement, which credited Republicans with progress on the issue, including Florida Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Richard Nugent, Dennis Ross, Vern Buchanan and Mario Diaz-Balart, for their efforts.
Democrats, who scoffed at Cantor's announcement, were busy sending their own signals to outraged constituents by going to the House floor and giving speeches about the issue. They then send reporters videos or transcripts of the speeches.
Lawmakers will be in their home districts next week and now have something to placate angry constituents.