Assistant Treasury secretary tells NU, ‘We oppose inclusion’
The Bush administration is adamant about opposing inclusion of group life in any form in an extension of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act.
In an interview last week with National Underwriter, Emil W. Henry Jr., new assistant secretary of the Treasury for financial institutions, said point blank, “We oppose inclusion of group life in any extension of the TRIA program.”
That position is consistent with the Treasury Department’s report on the program released late in June.
The administration wants fewer lines covered in any extension of the program than currently covered in the existing law, clearly ruling out adding any program because group life is not covered in the existing law.
“We want fewer lines and a smaller overall program” in any extension, Henry said.
Treasury’s position on group life could spell the death knell on its inclusion in any extension of TRIA because time is running short for congressional action.
The current program expires Dec. 31 unless extended, and, especially in the Senate, there is great pressure for Congress to finish its work before Thanksgiving.
There is broad, bipartisan support for such a provision in legislation being drafted by the majority staff of the House Financial Services Committee. But lobbyists say the administration is concentrating its efforts on imposing its will on what will be included in a TRIA extension in the Senate, something the Treasury Department doesn’t deny.
Work there is being conducted by the staff of the Senate Banking Committee, where a narrow extension of TRIA with a firm sunset date is being drafted.
Henry said the administration opposes inclusion of group life in any TRIA extension for several reasons. “First, it is certainly not consistent with reducing the number of lines of business covered by any extension,” he said.
Moreover, he added, “I don’t believe there has been any private market failure [to provide group life insurance].
“Group life has been a line that has been offered extensively [by the private market] even though it has been excluded as a TRIA line,” Henry added.