The Clarion-Ledger, 3/19/8

Gulf Coast senators have joined to block reauthorization of the federal flood insurance program in an effort to add wind coverage to the legislation.

Mississippi’s Republican Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker have agreed with Sens. David Vitter, R-La., and Mary Landrieu, D-La., to use a Senate procedure known as “hold” on the legislation, blocking a Senate vote, to win assurances they could amend the bill.

Thanks largely to the efforts of 4th District Rep. Gene Taylor, a Democrat, the House last year approved a bill that would allow purchasers of federal flood insurance to add wind coverage to their policies. The House-approved bill also would increase coverage – now capped at $250,000 for homes and $500,000 for commercial buildings – and allow renters to purchase protection for furniture and other belongings.

But nearly 2 1/2 years after Hurricane Katrina devastated Gulf Coast communities – touching off bitter fights between homeowners and their insurers – insurance reform is still in doubt on Capitol Hill.