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House passes measure to cancel $16B of flood program's debt

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a provision that cancels about two-thirds of the National Flood Insurance Program's debt as part of a disaster relief package for recent hurricanes and fires.

The bill passed by a 353-69 margin under suspension of the rules, which requires a two-thirds majority vote.

A provision to cancel $16 billion of NFIP debt comes as the program is expected to exceed its $30.4 billion borrowing authority due to claims from recent hurricanes. The package originated from a White House letter to congressional leaders a week before the vote that included several proposals to overhaul the flood insurance program which were ultimately omitted from the final bill.

The legislation would also provide $18.7 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund, with $4.9 billion reserved for local government loans designed to keep Puerto Rico programs operating beyond Oct. 31. Also included in the aid package is $576.5 million for wildfire suppression efforts.

The Senate is expected to take up the bill when it returns from its week-long recess.