Bills that would establish an optional federal charter for insurers have strong bipartisan support in the Senate.
Kim Dorgan, executive vice president of federal relations at the American Council of Life Insurers, Washington, gave that assessment here at the ACLI’s annual meeting.
“We’ve made a lot of progress this year,” Dorgan said.
Optional federal charter bills – bills that would give insurers the ability to choose between state and federal regulation – have been introduced in the House as well as the Senate.
Among Senate staffers, the idea that the federal charter option is “an issue whose time has come” is a recurring theme, Dorgan reported.
Over in the House, Rep. Edward Royce, R-Calif., the lawmaker who introduced his chamber’s version of the OFC bill, is a strong supporter of the federal option, Dorgan said.
Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., the most visible Democratic supporter of the House OFC bill, is “not quite there on property and casualty,” but he is a strong supporter of the federal option for life insurance, Dorgan said.
If Republicans keep control over the House after the November elections, Republicans who support OFC legislation would likely be in charge of the relevant committees, and, if the Democrats win control, Kanjorski would be in line to assume control of a key House Financial Services subcommittee, Dorgan said.
“Regardless of who has the majority, we’re in a very good position,” she said.
Although OFC legislation is winning more support, getting it through both the Senate and the House could take from 2 to 5 years, Dorgan predicted.
Gary Hughes, the ACLI’s general counsel, noted that the introduction of actual OFC legislation has led companies that support the general OFC concept to take a good look at the OFC bills and see how the bills would affect their own operations.