An amendment aimed at halting federal flood insurance rate hikes for five years has been blocked in the U.S. Senate.
The amendment, introduced by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) was blocked from coming to a vote Tuesday by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).
Amendments in the U.S. Senate require what is known as "unanimous consent" before a vote can take place, meaning a single member can block a vote from occurring.
Toomey told the New Orleans Times-Picayune Tuesday that he objected to changing reforms put in place last year because he supports the move to "diminish the subsidization that occurs now where homeowners in low-risk areas are made to subsidize in high-risk areas."
Landrieu, the newspaper reported, said she will likely reintroduce the amendment as a bill, which does not require unanimous consent.
The amendment, which has been strongly backed by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), would put off steep rate hikes for coastal homeowners that could begin to take effect this year.
Menendez blasted Toomey's decision in a statement released Tuesday.
"Republicans insisted on ending an affordable flood insurance program and now one Republican from a neighboring state blocked a vote to simply delay devastating insurance rate increases on residents trying to rebuild after Superstorm Sandy," he said.
The measure was blocked "without any regard for people’s safety or government’s public responsibility," he said.
Homeowners could face annual flood insurance premiums of up to $31,000 a year under reforms included in the 2012 Biggert-Waters flood insurance reform law if they do not raise their homes to comply with updated flood maps. Raising a home could cost tens of thousands of dollars at a minimum. Some homeowners have said at public meetings that they are considering abandoning their homes since they cannot afford to raise them.
Homeowners in flood zones who have mortgages are normally required to carry flood insurance.
Many Shore area residents were hopeful that the Landrieu amendment would have bought time for a FEMA flood insurance affordability study to be completed before rates changed.