Last-minute battle over TRIA extension

Published 12 December 2005

Terrorism insurance was supposed to be a temporary, post-9/11 measure, but insurers and realtors got so used to it, they want it extended; the White House and Senate want to limit the measure’s scope, the House want to expand it; either way, it expires on 31 December unless extended

The 2002 Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, or TRIA, is set to expire at the end of the year. There are many who question whether the law is necessary, and there are many who say that even if it is, it should be modified because the original version was written too much under the influence of 9/11. The White House wanted an extension of a more limited version of the bill, allowing the free market more scope to fashion its own response to the issue of how to insure against terrorist attacks. The Senate bill more or less dove-tailed with the White House wishes, but not so the House bill, which expanded the scope of TRIA. “Clearly the most important thing is to get a bill passed before Dec. 31,” said Scott Duncan, a spokesman for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America. Duncan may well get his wish, as the House easily passed an amended version of the Senate bill (S 467) on 7 December. Before that vote, the House substituted the text of its own version (HR 4314), a measure strongly opposed by the White House because it would expand the program, instead of limiting its scope. It is not clear what the Senate will do in the face of the House version, and Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) said there is no time for a conference.

Lest we forget, TRIA was supposed to be a temporary measure, but as is the case with many temporary measures generated in Washington, the relevant industries have become very comfortable with the bill and the protection it offered. Now the insurance, business, and real estate interests lobbying for an extension argue TRIA is critical to their industries’ welfare.

-read more in this CQ report (sub. req.); see Senate version (S. 467) (.pdf); House version (H.R. 4314) (.pdf)