Dem senators warn against merging flood insurance, highway bills


Sens. Mark Pryor (Ark.) and Dick Durbin (Ill.) voiced concerns that the final version of the bill reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program (S.1940) might require Americans who live in a "residual risk area" — behind or near flood levees — to buy flood insurance.

Pryor and Durbin say people who already pay taxes to maintain the levees should not also be required to buy flood insurance.

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"We now hear they're trying to include the flood insurance bill with those. I think that's a tragic mistake. And I think that endangers the very high chances of those two bills passing the Senate," Pryor said.

Pryor wants to add an amendment to the flood insurance bill that would remove the insurance purchasing requirement.

Legislators are said to be considering wrapping the flood insurance bill, including the levee provision, either into a combined bill extending student loan interest rates or a massive highway bill. All three bills could be combined into one package as well.

Pryor said combining the bills would endanger passage in the Senate.

"Like I said before, it also endangers the passage of the surface transportation and also the student loan provision that are very popular with people," Pryor said. "I think you have plenty of votes to pass both … but if the trade-off of that means that we're going to be charging people for flood insurance they don't need … I don't think that's a trade-off that we should make."

Republican Sens. John Hoeven (N.D.) and Pat Toomey (Pa.) also joined Pryor and Durbin in opposition of the provision. Hoeven is a co-sponsor of Pryor's amendment.