The House conceded the obvious on Dec. 19 and passed the Senate version of legislation extending the federal backstop on terrorism reinsurance without any provision for group life insurance.
Also left out of the bill was a provision that would have limited insurers in using travel destination as a factor in the underwriting of life insurance policies.
The overwhelmingly bipartisan vote was 360-53, with 50 Republicans and 3 Democrats voting against the bill.
But House Democrats did not accept the inevitable before taking some shots at the Senate, especially Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., ranking minority member of the Senate Banking Committee, who was insistent that the Senate version would have to carry the day.
Both Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y., railed against the lack of communication the Senate had with the House.
And Ackerman said during the final debate that he was introducing a bill that would add a provision to the Senate bill that increases terrorism risk insurance capacity for properties in urban areas seen as prime terrorism targets where there is currently a shortage of such capacity available, even with the current TRIA program in place, the so-called “reset” provision.
But, he said in acknowledging the obvious, “Santa Claus is not going to give America terrorism risk insurance for Christmas and we don’t live with the Easter bunny in the Senate’s candy-land, where catastrophic risk can be comfortably ignored.”
Ackerman added, “Saying ‘the market will provide’ doesn’t make it true.”
Frank said, “I do regret the breakdown in the U.S. Senate of the legislative process. We were told the senior Republican on the committee, the gentleman from Alabama, simply refused to meet with us,” Frank said. “If the Senate had voted against the reset mechanism, I would have been disappointed, but I would have said, ‘well that’s the way it works.’ “
Frank asked members of the Senate “not to put themselves in a position where there is a one-person veto.”
Rising in support of the legislation, Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., ranking minority member of the House Financial Service Committee, called it a good compromise.
“While it is not a perfect bill, the Senate’s TRIA extension is a reasonable, bipartisan compromise that will ensure the continued vitality of our commercial insurance markets operating under the threat of global terrorism,” he said.
He called the 7-year extension “fiscally responsible,” but said he supported it because it “otherwise limits and improves taxpayer protections and prevents further intrusion by the government into this market-based program.”
As passed by the House, H.R. 2761, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007, effectively extends the current program through 2014 and adds coverage of domestic terrorist events to the program.
It was passed under expedited rules requiring support by two-thirds of House members voting.