House hearings may prevent terror insurance from being extended

Published 2 December 2005

Insurers are worried: Legislation to renew the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), the federal program which guarantees the government will cover some losses from terrorist attacks, will be reviewed by a second House of Representatives committee. This second hearing may prevent the bill from passing before the end of the year recess. Insurers and property owners say the program is critical to the U.S. economy, but it is set to expire Dec. 31 unless extended. “Time is short, and anything that impedes progress of the legislation on the way to the president’s desk is unsettling,” said Julie Rochman, spokeswoman for the American Insurance Association. The House Financial Services Committee last month approved a bill extending the program, and backers were hoping this would be brought up for a vote by the full House next week. The Senate has already passed a bill that extends the program. The White House and leading Republicans in Congress would like to see the program cut back if it is continued.

Both the Senate and House bills attempt to do that in part by raising the event size that triggers federal aid from $5 million under the current program to $50 million in the first year of its extension and $100 million in the second year. The House Judiciary Committee now wants to examine the parts of the House bill affecting legal liability and judicial review, which fall under the Judiciary Committee’s jurisdiction, a panel spokesman said. The Judiciary Committee has until 31 December to weigh in on the measure, the panel’s spokesman says, but House lawmakers expect to be in session only until the end of that week, leaving little time if the chamber is to approve the bill and hammer out a compromise with the Senate before the end of the year.

-read more in this Reuters report