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DeLay Move Leaves Group Life Insurers Waiting

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Insurance industry leaders are still struggling to win congressional approval of a bill that would extend the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act.[@@]

TRIA is set to expire Dec. 31, 2005.

House Democrats declined late Friday to support a compromise that would have cut TRIA extension to 6 months. An earlier version of the extension bill, H.R. 4634, would have extended TRIA for 2 years.

The extension period was cut at the request of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas.

The Democrats’ decision to withdraw support for the amended bill forced the House Republican leadership to pull the bill from the floor.

The House expects to return for a “lame duck” session in mid-November, after the elections.

The bill has broad support among rank-and-file members, but several Republican leaders, such as DeLay and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., have voiced concerns about the idea that the TRIA program creates a new unfunded federal mandate.

Democratic votes were important to passage of H.R. 4634 Friday because the House Republican leaders had decided to put the bill on the floor under the so-called suspension calendar, an expedited process for legislation. Bills that go to the floor through that process require a two-thirds majority vote to pass.

The final version of the bill as negotiated by a number of House members mirrored the version reported out by the House Financial Services Committee Sept. 29, but it would have cut the extension time frame and might have cut a passage providing for TRIA protection for group life insurers.

House leaders ended up putting group life back into the bill because of strong lobbying by the insurance industry and its supporters in the House.