Flood Program Bill Held Up By Sen. Landrieu

WASHINGTON--Legislation to reform the National Flood Insurance Program is being kept from a vote on the Senate floor by a Louisiana senator who objects to rate increases it contains.

The legislation, known as the Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act, was sponsored by the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Chris Dodd, D-Conn., along with the panel's ranking member, Richard Shelby, R-Ala. It was approved by the committee earlier this week, but Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., has filed a hold on the measure.

Stephanie Allen, Sen. Landrieu's press secretary, said her boss "just didn't see any progress" from the language in the flood reform bill which she put a hold on last year.

"What she does like is that it clears the decks from the past debuts of the program. But she can't support the bill because it drastically increases the premiums her constituents must pay," Ms. Allen said.

Under Senate rules, any senator can indefinitely block a bill from coming to the floor by placing a hold on it. Sen. Landrieu, along with fellow Louisianan David Vitter, R-La., blocked similar legislation from reaching the floor last year.

Ms. Allen said that Sen. Landrieu believes more could be done with the bill and that there is "common ground" between the Senate flood reform legislation and the version passed by the House.

Ms. Allen said the senator supports the language in the House version, "especially the all-perils language" that would allow the NFIP to offer windstorm coverage to homeowners who have already purchased flood insurance.

Justin Roth, senior federal affairs director for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, argued that by holding up the NFIP reforms, Sen. Landrieu may be hurting those she is trying to help.

"Louisiana has one of the highest number of homes participating in the NFIP, and without this legislation the very future of the NFIP, which so many people in Louisiana depend on would, be in serious danger," he said. "By eliminating the debt, updating flood maps and supporting mitigation efforts, this flood reform is beneficial, not detrimental to those living in Louisiana."

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