House and Senate committees voted Wednesday to approve 2 very different Terrorism Risk Insurance Act extension bills.[@@]

The current TRIA reinsurance program, which excludes group life, is set to expire Dec. 31.

Members of the House Financial Services Committee voted 64 to 3 for their TRIA extension bill, H.R. 4314, which includes federal protection for group life insurers.

Members of the Senate Banking Committee approved their version of the extension bill, S. 467, which excludes group life, by a voice vote.

Treasury Secretary John Snow has issued a statement welcoming committee approval of S. 467.

Senate actions on TRIA extension “recognize the temporary nature of the program and place terrorism insurance on the right path to full private-market participation,” Snow says. “We will continue to work with both the House and Senate to ensure the program entails greater participation of the private market and less risk for taxpayers.”

Treasury spokeswoman Brookly McLaughlin has criticized H.R. 4314.

“As introduced, the bill increases lines of coverage, increases complexity and puts taxpayers at risk in certain cases sooner than under the current version,” McLaughlin says. “We’ve been very clear that any extension must result in private-market participants taking on a larger role in providing terrorism coverage and the risk to taxpayers being decreased.”

Ken Crerar, president of the Council of the Insurance Agents and Brokers, Washington, has sent CIAB members a message predicting that Congress will approve some kind of TRIA extension.

“Congress is expected to return after the Thanksgiving holidays to complete action on a number of legislative items, and we believe that this issue is of significantly high profile to create resolve among Senate and House leaders for resolution,” Crerar writes.

Industry lobbyists and congressional staffers say the full Senate could vote on S. 467 as early as Thursday afternoon.

Observers are not sure whether the House can pass H.R. 4314 before members leave for the 2-week Thanksgiving recess.

Both S. 467 and H.R. 4314 call for a 2-year extension of TRIA and raise the current $5 million “trigger” for federal involvement to $50 million in the first year and to $100 million in the second year.

The House bill would let TRIA continue for a third year with higher trigger levels.

The House bill also calls for the federal government to use tax breaks to encourage the creation of a private terrorism risk-pooling system.