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|Alexander launches Congressional levee caucus|
U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-Quitman, has launched the Congressional Levee Caucus as part of his ongoing crusade to bring critical attention to the levee certification issue.
Alexander, who will serve as chairman, decided to establish the Congressional Levee Caucus to inform members of Congress on the matters pertaining to levees.
"Louisiana is far from the only state which depends upon the integrity of strong levees," said Alexander. "When the government makes damaging decisions affecting levee maintenance, it is not just a local or state problem, but a national concern.
"The Congressional Levee Caucus will serve as an informal, bipartisan group of Members dedicated to educating others on the issues pertaining to levees and the protection they provide to millions of Americans. We will work toward common legislative goals aimed at preserving our nation's levee system and defending those individuals whom levees guard."
The chief priority of the group is to begin discussions on levee certification, which has local and state officials, as well as residents, in a state of distress.
"The first item that the Congressional Levee Caucus will tackle is levee certification. This is a dilemma that several communities are currently facing, and I am hopeful this caucus will draw the needed attention to this impending crisis.
"For far too long, our levees and waterways have been neglected and deprived of funding needed to take care of basic maintenance. Members of Congress, who represent constituencies protected by levees, must band together to strengthen their voices."
In addition to pressing for congressional involvement, Alexander has called on the president to act immediately.
Alexander stated in a letter to President Obama, "I request that you order the Army Corps of Engineers to take full responsibility for our nation's levees – including maintenance and accreditation. I ask that you delay FEMA's implementation of the Flood Map Modernization program until these concerns have been addressed."
Over the last year Alexander has also sought to bring the message to the House floor, as well as to the towns of the 5th District.
Alexander cosponsored H.R. 3415, which would suspend the flood insurance rate map updates in geographic areas in which certain levees are being repaired. In September 2009, Alexander authored his own bill, H.R. 3643, which would correct some language differences between Congress and the Corps of Engineers' interpretation of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2007.
"Moving forward, I will do everything in my power to increase awareness about the levee certification issue and its implications for residents. The federal government and the president must assist in ensuring that the integrity of the levees, the welfare of the people, and the sustainability of the towns are protected."
Alexander represents the 5th Congressional District and serves on the House Appropriations Committee.
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