Members of the U.S. House of Representatives have agreed to drop efforts to get group life insurance into an extension of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act.[@@]
Senate Majority Leader William Frist, R-Tenn., Tuesday reversed position from late last week and said time remains for the House and Senate to negotiate an extension before Congress leaves for the year.
However, according to a representative of a policyholder group, Senate negotiators have not demonstrated a willingness to make their bill any more similar to a more expansive TRIA extension bill that the House approved last week. The House bill would have brought group life into the federal TRIA reinsurance program.
Now House negotiators have agreed to eliminate group life as a covered line in a document sent to the Senate by House negotiators in preparations for a meeting scheduled today between Rep. Michael Oxley, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.
The policyholder group lobbyist says House negotiators made the concessions because they believe that getting coverage for group life and acts of domestic terrorism is part of the “price to pay” to get the bill enacted this year.
The Bush administration and administration supporters in the Senate oppose inclusion of group life in TRIA, in part because they argue that the group life market has been flourishing over the past 3 years without the benefit of TRIA protection.
The House also has offered to cut a TRIA bill provision fiercely opposed by the life insurance industry that would have prohibited discrimination in life insurance underwriting based on a person’s plans for foreign travel.
The original TRIA program is set to expire Dec. 31.
Congress has been rushing to adjourn Dec. 17. Frist gave House leaders a little more leverage by saying over the weekend in another context that he might force the Senate to stay until Dec. 23, to force recalcitrant senators to accept the White House position on tax and Alaska oil drilling.