House leaders have brought back the possibility that the federal terrorism reinsurance program could expand to include group life insurance.[@@]

Republican leaders have persuaded the House Judiciary Committee to agree to give up jurisdiction over the House Terrorism Risk Insurance Act extension bill, H.R. 4314. Congressional staffers now say a vote on the bill could occur as early as Wednesday.

“Obviously, getting House floor action is a big step forward,” says Peggy Peterson, a spokeswoman for Rep. Michael Oxley, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

The current version of TRIA is set to expire Dec. 31, and Congress wants to get out of Washington for the holidays by Dec. 17.

H.R. 4314 would expand TRIA to include group life, but the White House has been backing a simpler Senate TRIA extension bill that would keep group life out of the TRIA program.

The House Financial Services Committee voted 64-3 in November to approve H.R. 4314, but Judiciary Committee officials last week said they also had the authority to review the bill.

H.R. 4314 supporters said Judiciary Committee review could have doomed passage of the bill, by adding procedural delays and giving Judiciary Committee members a chance to add provisions, such as limits on lawsuits by terrorism victims, that might have kept the bill from passing in the Senate. Failure of H.R. 4314 could increase the odds that Congress will approve the Senate TRIA extension bill.