Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezPoll: Menendez has 17-point lead over GOP challenger Russian attacks on America require bipartisan response from Congress Justice Dept intends to re-try Menendez in corruption case MORE (D-N.J.) called on Congress to pass a bill that would stop flood insurance rate increases affecting communities still recovering from Hurricane Sandy.

“Even as they recover from the worst natural disaster in our state’s history, homeowners are being faced with a manmade disaster in the form of skyrocketing flood insurance premiums,” Menendez said Thursday.

Menendez introduced the Homeowner’s Flood Insurance Affordability Act before lawmakers left for their holiday recess. The bill would freeze federal flood insurance premium increases on most properties affected by the new Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) until the Federal Emergency Managment Agency (FEMA) completes an affordability study.

“This legislation simply provides temporary relief to property owners … who played by the rules and are now poised to see their most valuable asset become worthless through no fault of their own,” Menendez said.

After a wave of insurance claims from Hurricane Katrina victims put the National Flood Insurance Program on the verge of bankruptcy, Congress passed a law, known as Biggert-Waters, to restore its solvency. 

Biggert-Waters took effect at the beginning of the new year, and now some lawmakers are saying the drastic rate increases are placing a burden on recovering flood victims and making their homes impossible to sell or stay in.

Menendez’s bill, S. 1610, has bipartisan support from 27 Senate cosponsors.

“Flood insurance isn’t just a coastal issue or a northeast issue — it’s an issue that affects every state,” Menendez said. “The fact is every state has properties covered by the National Flood Insurance Program — and every state will see premiums on some of those properties increase.”