U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Representative Jerry Costello (D-IL), members of the House-Senate Transportation Bill Conference Committee, were joined today by U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) and U.S. Representative John Shimkus (R-IL) in announcing that they successfully defeated a proposal to mandate flood insurance for individuals -- including those in Metro East, Illinois -- who live behind healthy levees, dams and other flood control structures.
The proposal was originally part of the National Flood Insurance Program reauthorization bill which, earlier this week, was attached to a package of bills that includes the transportation bill conference report and a bill to prevent student loan interest rates from increasing.
"This proposal was dropped into the flood insurance bill with little warning and even less debate," said Durbin. "Working with a bipartisan coalition that included Senator Kirk and Congressman Shimkus, Congressman Costello and I were able to remove this proposal from the Transportation Conference Committee. We will continue to do everything we can to protect the investment that Metro East families and businesses have made to strengthen their levees and protect against floods."
"This was a great bipartisan effort to keep this provision from becoming law, which would have penalized areas like ours that are addressing local levee improvements," said Costello. "The Congress needs to support these efforts, and we believe that the "residual risk' provision would ultimately have made communities less safe by providing a financial disincentive to fix levees. With this legislation finalized for five years, we will continue to work with the Corps of Engineers to ensure the work to improve the Metro East levees proceeds as quickly as possible."
Durbin, Costello, Kirk and Shimkus joined a bipartisan coalition of Senators and Representatives in arguing that homeowners and businesses living behind flood control structures already pay local and federal taxes for flood protection through infrastructure. A mandatory one-size-fits-all requirement would ignore these taxpayer investments and actually compel responsible communities to pay multiple times for flood protection. After a week of fighting against the insurance requirement, the provision was removed from the underlying transportation package.
"Eliminating this provision means that Metro East families won't pay twice for flood protection - first for levees and then again for mandatory flood insurance," a spokesman for Senator Kirk said. "We are pleased that the bipartisan, bicameral effort was successful."
"Local residents, businesses, state legislators, and community at large have done all they can to move levee repairs forward. Some in Washington would have made all of that for naught, so I am pleased that we were able to stop those efforts. I will continue to work with local leaders and my colleagues in Congress to allow the local effort to be successful," said Shimkus.
In the Senate, Durbin and Kirk worked with a bipartisan coalition of members that included U.S. Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR), John Hoeven (R-ND), Mark Begich (D-AK), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Boozman (D-AR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bob Casey (D-PA), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Kent Conrad (D-ND), John Cornyn (R-TX), 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), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Pat Toomey (R-PA).
In the House, Costello and Shimkus led an effort with other members of the bipartisan Congressional Levee Caucus, including Aaron Schock (R-IL), Rodney Alexander (R-LA), Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), and working closely with Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-AL), Ranking Member Barney Frank (D-MA); and Insurance, Housing & Community Opportunity Subcommittee Chairman Judy Biggert (R-IL) and Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-CA).