U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy has confirmed to the Associated Press that he was bumped from a Republican leadership position in the House after breaking with party leaders over flood insurance rates for Gulf Coast residents. The Senate has already passed a bill that delays substantial increases in property insurance for residents and businesses in flood prone Gulf states, and Cassidy’s House colleague, Rep. Charles Boustany of Lafayette, announced today that the House will take up similar legislation.
Conservative political action groups oppose the bills and have lobbied heavily in favor of letting the changes to rates go into effect, but most Gulf Coast lawmakers of both parties favor at least delaying the rate hikes, pitting GOP politicians like Cassidy and Boustany against party leaders.
On Wednesday, before news of Cassidy’s ouster from the House Republican “whip team” began circulating, Cassidy’s office sent out a press release saying the congressman was “very optimistic that the House of Representatives will consider substantial legislation on flood insurance reform in the coming weeks.” The press release even included a quote from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia extolling Cassidy for being “a tireless advocate for flood insurance reform on behalf of his constituents.”
Then we hear that Cassidy (and other Gulf Coast Republicans, it should be noted) siding with Democrats in a procedural vote over the issue cost him his leadership position in the “whip team,” which rallies GOP support for or opposition to legislation before the House.
But by Thursday the Cassidy camp was seeing the other side of the spin, issuing a press release headed “In Case You Missed It” containing the AP story on his leadership ouster.
Why? The last line in the AP story says it best: “Cassidy’s removal from the leadership position could bolster his efforts to show he works across party lines on Louisiana issues, a claim [incumbent Democratic Sen. Mary] Landrieu regularly makes as well."