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South Mississippi Living 4/07

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Vitter stalls bill on flood insurance

By Sean Reilly - Press Register, October 23, 2007

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La, is blocking action by the full Senate on a flood insurance overhaul, saying that it should include higher coverage limits and optional protection for windstorm damage.

The overhaul, sponsored by U.S. Sens. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, won unanimous approval from the Senate banking committee Wednesday.

But in a Monday letter to his two colleagues, Vitter said the legislation should have increased coverage levels, as a House-passed measure would do. The House bill also would allow flood insurance policyholders to add wind coverage; Vitter urged the Senate to consider a similar provision or take other action "to address the broader insurance crisis."

In a news release accompanying the letter, Vitter said he was placing a "hold" on the bill to prevent it from going forward until his concerns were addressed.

Saying he has not seen the letter, a spokesman for Dodd, who chairs the banking committee, had no immediate comment late Monday.

Together with Louisiana's other senator, Democrat Mary Landrieu, Vitter blocked a Senate vote last year on a similar measure to strengthen the flood program, which is now crippled by billions of dollars in debt to the federal treasury. The Senate bill would write off that debt, but also phase out cut-rate premiums for vacation homes and business properties. Last week, a Landrieu spokesman also sounded concerns about the bill's lack of wind coverage and the potential cost to Louisiana policyholders.

The federally backed flood insurance program has more than 54,000 policyholders in Alabama, the bulk of them in Mobile and Baldwin counties.

© 2007 Press-Register

© 2007 Ana Maria Rosato. All rights reserved.
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