he owners of million-dollar beach homes aren’t a particularly sympathetic political constituency. Conservatives deride them as (literal) coastal elites; progressives demand they fork over more in taxes. Both parties happily accept their campaign contributions, but few members of Congress shed tears for the plight of waterfront barons, and fewer still are willing to wage a public fight on their behalf.
Robert Menendez, the senior senator from New Jersey, is one of those brave lawmakers. Menendez is leading the opposition to a first-of-its-kind policy that would force homeowners with property closest to the water to pay more for federal flood insurance. The pricing scheme, known as Risk Rating 2.0, was first developed under the Obama administration, but the Trump administration delayed its implementation. Now it represents one of the most progressive changes that President Joe Biden can make without new approval from Congress: By overhauling premiums in the National Flood Insurance Program, the government can simultaneously price-in the risks posed by climate change and correct historic inequities in which millions of lower-income homeowners have essentially subsidized flood protection for their much wealthier neighbors.