• Insurers thankful for reauthorization of TRIA

    President Barack Obama signed in a six year renewal of Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) last Tuesday, and workers comp insurers sighed in relief after thirteen days of uncertainty following the expiration of the previous bill at the end of 2014. The insurance marketplace has adopted a “wait and see” approach to TRIA’s expiration, convinced that the negative backlash against Congress for allowing TRIA to expire would have been too great for lawmakers not to renew the law. The industry now goes back to business as usual.

  • Police chiefs, sheriffs in major U.S. cities support immigration executive order

    Twenty-seven chiefs of police and sheriffs from U.S. cities — including Los Angeles, Dallas, Denver, and Washington, D.C.— have joined the Major Cities Chiefs Associationto defend President Barack Obama’s executive order which extends deferred deportation to about five million undocumented immigrants. Many law enforcement officers around the country argue that Obama’s order will improve public safety by allowing many undocumented immigrants to feel secure enough to approach local police. They are more likely to report crime without fear of deportation, police chiefs and sheriffs assert.

  • Businesses welcome TRIA extension, but small insurers worry about reimbursements

    Last week, the property insurance, real estate, and financial services industries applauded Congress for passing the recent version of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), which President Barack Obama is expected to sign into law. TRIA has already been extended twice and the most recent version of the bill will, beginning in 2016, raise the federal coverage backstop from $100 million to $200 million by 2020 with an increase of $20 million per year. S&P welcomed the passing of TRIA through both houses of Congress, but cautioned that the bill could hurt small insurers. The company is concerned that small insurers may not see any TRIA reimbursements with the doubling of the federal coverage backstop to $200 million.

  • Paris attacks complicate efforts to freeze DHS funding over Obama’s immigration executive orders

    Last week’s terror attacks in Paris have increased concerns of DHS officials that terrorists may be looking to attack U.S. targets. For many members of Congress, the Paris events are proof that DHS operations should continue to be funded, but opponents of the president’s immigration executive order appear ready to freeze funding for DHS altogether unless such funding does not include funds for the implementation of the president’s executive orders. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) warned fellow Republicans to be cautious: “Defunding that part of the bill that deals with enforcing the executive order makes sense but we can’t go too far here because look what happened in Paris. The Department of Homeland Security needs to be up and running,” he said.

  • Not enough senators would vote to override presidential veto of DHS defunding

    A late 2014 Republican strategy to fund DHS only through February in hopes of using further funding as a lever to change immigration policies once Republicans controlled both houses of Congress, may meet a dead end as Republican amendments to President Barack Obama’s DHS funding request will need sixty votes to clear the Senate. Senate Republicans will need at least six democrats or Democratic-leaning independents to vote yes to the Republican-led DHS funding bill.

  • Research advocates urge 114th Congress to act on Top 5 science priorities in first 100 days

    Research!America urged the 114th Congress to take action on five science priorities in the first 100 days of the legislative session in order to elevate research and innovation on the U.S. agenda. The organizations says that the five priorities: end sequestration, increase funding for U.S. research agencies, advance the 21st Century Cures initiative, repeal the medical device tax, and enact a permanent and enhanced R&D tax credit.

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  • Insurance firms, developers face uncertainty now that TRIA has expired

    Insurance firms and commercial property developers are uncertain about how the commercial real estate industry will react now that the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) has expired. Many commercial property developers relied on TRIA to fulfill their loan requirements. Analysts predict real estate projects and construction jobs in Maryland, for example, will be affected by the failure to extend TRIA.

  • Insurance industry rattled by Congress's failure to reauthorize terrorism insurance backstop

    Major commercial insurers and lenders serving the real estate, tourism, and construction sectors were surprised by Congress’s failure to reauthorize the federal government’s terrorism insurance backstop,or at least extend it into 2015, when the new Congress can then reach a consensus. The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act(TRIA) was established in November 2002 as a federal backstop to protect insurers in the event an act of terrorism results in losses above $100 million. It has been extended and reauthorized twice. The insurance industry had hoped that TRIA would be renewed for another six years. The bill — the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2014 — was passed by the House, but Senate Republicans and Democrats remained in disagreement through the end of the legislative session.

  • Obama signs five cybersecurity measures into law

    Last week President Barack Obama signed five cybersecurity-related pieces of legislation, including an update to the Federal Information Security Management Act(FISMA) — now called the Federal Information Security Modernization Act — the law which governs federal government IT security. Other cyber legislation the president signed includes the Homeland Security Workforce Assessment Act, the Cybersecurity Workforce Assessment Act, the National Cybersecurity Protection Act (NCPA), and the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act.

  • Senate expects to extend terrorism insurance after House passes bill

    After the House passed the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2014 (TRIPRA) last week, supporters of the bill expect the Senate to approve it, although they are unsure when that will occur. The current version of the program is expected to expire by 31 December unless Congress renews the legislation or places a temporary extension.The House version would extend TRIPRA for six years, increase the threshold for government reimbursement from $100 million to $200 million, and increase companies’ co-payments to 20 percent from 15 percent.

  • House approves 4-year extension of chemical facility safety legislation

    On 11 December the House approved a 4-year reauthorization of DHS’s Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standardsprogram (CFATS), meant to protect U.S. chemical facilities from terrorist attacks. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill(H.R. 4007). Implementing the CFATS program will cost roughly $349 million over fiscal years 2015 to 2019. The CFATS, authorized in Section 550 of the 2007 DHS Appropriations Act, requires industrial facilities with certain levels of use or storage of chemicals to submit information about their chemical holdings to DHS, assess their vulnerabilities, and submit plans to address those vulnerabilities and secure their chemical holdings.

  • Impasse in Congress over terrorism insurance (TRIA) renewal

    The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act(TRIA) is expected to expire by 31 December unless Congress renews the legislation or places a temporary extension. The legislation, initially established in November 2002 as a federal backstop to protect insurers in the event an act of terrorism results in losses above $100 million, has been extended and reauthorized. The insurance industry supports the reauthorization approved by the Senate, and opposes a short-term extension. Some insurance companies have noted on their contracts that policyholders could lose terrorism coverage if TRIA is not renewed.

  • GOP senators block NSA surveillance reform bill

    The USA Freedom Act, a bill introduced last year aiming to curtail some of the NSA’s data collection programs, especially those focusing on U.S. phone data, failed last night to reach the 60-vote threshold required to cut off debate and move to a vote. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), the Republican leader, and other leading GOP senators worked hard to defeat the bill. Nearly a year-and-a-half after the Edward Snowden’s revelations, the act was considered the most politically viable effort in four decades to place curbs on NSA activities. Civil libertarians and technology companies supported the bill, as did the White House and the intelligence community – although the latter two did so more out of fear that a failure of the bill would jeopardize the extension of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which expires next June.

  • Congress ready to allocate additional funds to agencies working on Ebola

    Some members of Congress are preparing to offer additional funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and other federal agencies, but according to White House press secretary Josh Earnest, the Obama administration has not decided how much additional funding it will request from Congress to combat the epidemic.

  • Uncertainty over terrorism insurance act’s renewal upsets industry

    The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) is set to expire at the end of this year unless Congress renews the program, which will likely include reforms required by House Republicans. Congress passed TRIA in 2002 after the 9/11 attacks to encourage insurance companies to continue terrorism coverage as part of commercial policies after many feared that doing so would lead to greater financial loss should another terror attack occur.