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Senate Gets Tough On TRIA

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The White House and Senate Republicans are trying to use time pressure to persuade the House to accept a version of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act extension bill that excludes group life insurance.[@@]

The House has passed a different, broader TRIA extension bill that would include group life, but the White House and White House supporters in the Senate say the group life provision is unnecessary because the group life market has been flourishing without TRIA protection.

Normally, House and Senate lawmakers would hold a formal conference to hammer out differences between the bills, but Congress hopes to finish its business by Dec. 17, and TRIA is set to expire Dec. 31.

Given the tight schedule, the House should accept the Senate’s TRIA extension bill, a spokesman for Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, said Thursday.

Shelby’s office says lawmakers should use an informal conference process to adopt the Senate TRIA extension bill.

“Shelby has been working closely with the White House to develop a bill that closely mirrors the White House’s position,” says Kimberly Olson Dorgan, senior vice president for federal relations at the ACLI. “I’m not sure why [he] has avoided a conference, but certainly it’s clear where he wants it to end up. Unfortunately, we fear it’s a tactic to keep the group life insurance provisions from the final bill.”

One industry lobbyist who requested anonymity rejects the idea that White House and Senate Republican leaders are in a mood to compromise on what they believe to be a core “Red State vs. Blue State” issue.

“The House is delusional in thinking that the White House and the Senate Republican leadership would agree to expand the program by adding group life and domestic terrorism,” the lobbyist says.