U.S. Senators Mark Pryor and John Boozman led a bipartisan group of senators in defeating a proposal to mandate flood insurance for individuals who live behind healthy levees and other flood control structures.
Pryor and Boozman support reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program, which provides coverage against property losses that result from flooding. They objected to a section within the reform bill that requires families and businesses to purchase flood insurance simply because they live behind a levee, dam or other flood control structure. After a week of fighting against the insurance requirement, the provision was removed from the underlying transportation package before it was passed by the Senate.
"In Arkansas and throughout the country, communities have gone to great lengths to build and maintain sound flood control infrastructure. We have some of the best levees in the world that have never once been breached. It simply doesn't make sense to ignore these taxpayer investments, and arbitrarily force these families to fill FEMA's coffers through an unnecessary flood insurance mandate," Pryor said. "I was proud to go to battle for these communities, and I am hopeful we have put this proposal to rest for good."
"I am pleased that our calls to remove this arbitrary, unfair and overreaching language were heard. The burden this mandate would have placed on Arkansans who live behind sound flood control infrastructure was completely unnecessary given the investments these communities have already made in flood protection. I commend Senator Pryor's hard work to lead the charge against this needless directive and pleased that our objections helped create a sound bill," said Boozman.
The Senators argued that homeowners and businesses behind flood control structures already pay for flood protection through infrastructure investments, such as local levee taxes. Federal funds also support flood control infrastructure. As an example, the Mississippi River and Tributaries flood control system is a combined $32 billion investment. A mandatory purchase requirement would ignore this taxpayer investment and compel responsible communities to pay multiple times for the same flood protection.
The senators credit a strong coalition of bipartisan senators who helped halt the insurance requirement, including Senators John Hoeven (R-ND), Mark Begich (D-AK), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bob Casey (D-PA), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Kent Conrad (D-ND), John Cornyn (R-TX), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), James Inhofe (R-OK), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Pat Toomey (R-PA).
"Flood insurance is not an exciting issue, but a strong group of my colleagues joined in to bring attention to the problems in this bill, and I am grateful for their support. I particularly appreciate Senators Hoeven, Toomey and Durbin who delivered strong arguments on the Senate floor against the overreaching flood insurance mandate," said Pryor.