A key House Democrat has blasted the White House for lack of attention to the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 and House Republicans for inaction on efforts to extend TRIA.[@@]

Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa.., second-ranking minority member of the House Financial Services Committee, launched his attack Tuesday on Capitol Hill, at a meeting organized by the Risk and Insurance Management Society, New York, just a couple weeks before the June 30 deadline for release of the big U.S. Treasury Department report on TRIA extention.

Insurers have been backing a TRIA bill introduced in the Senate by Sens. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, and Chris Dodd, D-Conn.

Kanjorski said one provision of the TRIA extension bill he particularly supports would expand TRIA backstop protection to include group life. He said adding group life makes “good sense.”

But Kanjorski talked more about the mechanics of getting the TRIA extension bill passed. He cited House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, as the primary reason a TRIA extension has not moved through the House so far. “The delay is there because of someone named DeLay,” Kanjorski said.

Kanjorski also blamed the Bush administration for inaction on the bill, saying the leadership from the administration is just “totally absent.” Among the administration deficiencies, Kanjorski said, is the large number of vacant spots the administration has failed to fill at the Treasury Department.

There is nobody at the appointed level at Treasury to take the bill and marshal it through Congress, Kanjorski said. He said he hasn’t heard from President Bush on the bill whatsoever, and he told his audience, “You may talk to the President more often than I do on TRIA.”

TRIA extension is not as much a pressing issue for the administration as the budget or the war in Iraq, Kanjorski said.

“We are not going to get a TRIA extension by public demand,” Kanjorski said. “We’re going to get it by forceful advocacy.”

Kanjorski said DeLay has proposed a 6-month TRIA extension, something which failed to muster Democratic support when proposed during the dying days of the last session of Congress. Democrats called the idea of extending TRIA for 6 months “the same as nothing at all,” Kanjorski said.

If the industry is successful in getting only a 6-month extension from this Congress on TRIA, that will make it harder to get a longer extension next year, Kanjorski warned.

Kanjorski voiced concerned about the fact that the private sector has not yet come up with a private-market solution to the TRIA problem.

Kanjorski said the industry might have to accept a series of 6-month TRIA extensions to win the 2-year transition insurers say they need to develop a private market for terrorism risk coverage.