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With a change in Congress approaching, and under additional pressure by the White House, a lot of bills are making their way through the legislative process. Which of them actually complete the process remains to be seen, although some have a better chance than others.

Among the ones most of interest to advisors may be the Terrorism Risk Protection Act, HR 3210, and the Bankruptcy Reform Act, HR 333. The former bill states, with restrictions, that the government will cover up to 90% of insured losses above an industry triggering level in the case of acts of terrorism. Jack Dolan, a spokesman at the American Council of Life Insurers, says that while H.R. 3210 is largely a property/casualty bill, the bill’s conference report contains language calling for an expedited study by the Treasury Department of the group life insurance market. Should circumstances warrant, the conference report “will call for an extension of the federal backstop into the group life arena.”

Even though there has been considerable protest over the amount of liability this would transfer to the taxpayer, the bill passed the house by voice vote on Nov. 14. The bill had been expected to pass the Senate easily until Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas) tied it to votes on the Homeland Security bill, to be voted on the week of Nov. 18. If the Homeland Security bill fails, so will the Terrorism Risk Protection Act, says Gramm, who initially supported the bill. He has also criticized the House version of the bill, saying it indirectly exposes taxpayers to billions of dollars in losses.

HR 333, the Bankruptcy Reform Act, apparently stands little chance of passage any time soon. The original bill contained a provision that would have sought to prevent anti-abortion protesters from seeking the protection of bankruptcy to avoid court-imposed fines resulting from demonstrations and other actions by the protesters. Conservative Republicans therefore joined with Democrats, who said the bill would be too hard on working-class people, to stall the bill’s progress. The House, however, passed along party lines on November 14 a new bill, stripped of the anti-abortion provision. Democrats in the Senate have said that they will not even discuss the bill, much less pass it, without the abortion provision.


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