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The bill, which cleared the Senate Banking Committee on a voice vote, extends for five years the life of the National Flood Insurance Program.

The flood insurance program was set up in 1968 to help people in vulnerable areas get insurance coverage and covers some 4.4 million homes. The panel's action sent the legislation to the full Senate.

The bill is cosponsored by Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel.

A similar version sponsored by Nebraska Congressman Doug Bereuter passed the House 352-67 in November.

Repeat flood victims who rebuild their property in the same flood-prone areas cost the federal government an estimated $200 million a year.