The end game on legislation extending the federal backstop on terrorism insurance continued last week with the House passing legislation adding group life insurance and restrictions of use of travel underwriting to the program while at the same time acknowledging that the ultimate bill is virtually certain not to contain those provisions.
At the same time, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and chief sponsor of the more expansive House bill, said during floor debate on Dec. 12 that he is reserving the right to demand changes in the bill next year that would add the two provisions to the program.
Frank’s dilemma stems from the Senate insisting that its bare-bones, 7-year extension of the current program be the final product, Frank said during the floor debate.
But, with the program set to expire by Dec. 31, and Congress scheduled to finish its work by Dec. 21, at the latest, Frank admitted that he will likely be forced to accept the Senate bill.
“There is no chance of this [legislation] expiring,” Frank said. “Everybody knows that. We have preserved our ability at any point simply to accept [the Senate bill].
“The question is do we give up now or do we send them the message that the ability to travel to Israel, the concern for the small insurance companies being able to insure commercial properties, and the concern for group life and not just property, that those are important issues?
“We can take that vote today [to pass the Senate bill] and send that message,” Frank said.
“And if we have to, we will accommodate reality,” he added. “But we will have sent that message, and it gives us a basis upon which to act next year.
The American Council of Life Insurers, which has been the chief advocate for the group life provision, acknowledged the House’s efforts in its comments after the House vote.