Demand by conservatives to add tort reform provisions could kill the bill
By ARTHUR D. POSTAL
The likelihood that some of the more innovative and controversial provisions of the House version of legislation extending the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act would make it into law were reduced last Thursday when the House Judiciary Committee was given jurisdiction over the bill.
That will delay House action on the bill and reduce the window for some of these provisions to be added into the Senate version of the bill supported by the White House, the Treasury Department and conservatives in the House.
It could also kill the bill if tort provisions demanded in the past by House conservatives were added.
In a bulletin to members sent out after the House Parliamentarian granted referral to the Judiciary Committee, David Winston, senior vice president, federal affairs, for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, said the referral will delay consideration of the bill, H.R. 4314, by the full House.
The panel could also add a tort reform measure relating to punitive damages arising from a terrorist attack to the bill, Winston said in his bulletin.
“The legislative time constraints and the referral of the House bill to the Judiciary Committee may strengthen the prospects for the more streamlined Senate bill supported by the White House,” Winston concluded.
Earlier, an industry lobbyist said “Capitol Hill staff has made it clear that tort reform provisions could sink the bill. Tort reform is the proxy for those who want TRIA to expire.
“As much as everyone in the industry supports tort reform, it is more important that we get this bill completed. Tort reform will never be accepted by the Senate,” the lobbyist said.
The effort by the White House, Treasury Department and House conservatives is designed to send the bill to the Judiciary Committee to add tort reform provisions and is totally unacceptable to Democrats.
Democrats would have strong leverage because of the strong consensus needed to act on legislation when Congress wants to move quickly. Congress wants to wrap its current session by Dec. 17, and the Senate does not plan to return until Dec. 12.