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Senate Passes TRIA Bill That Excludes Group Life

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Members of the Senate voted unanimously today to approve a bill that would extend the federal terrorism risk backstop program for 7 years, through 2014.

The bill, H.R. 2761, was approved without debate through a consent procedure.

The Senate version of H.R. 2761 that passed today would exclude coverage for group life insurance, and it also would exclude most other terrorism risk insurance program coverage additions sought by the insurance industry.

Members of the Senate created the bill by replacing the original text of H.R. 2761, which would have added coverage for group life insurance and provided protection against attacks involving weapons of mass destruction, with the text of a much narrower bill, S. 2285.

White House officials say President Bush would sign the narrower bill but probably would veto a broader terrorism risk program extension bill.

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and other House leaders have been promoting passage of a much broader terrorism risk program extension bill that would include protection for group life insurance and protection against attacks involving weapons of mass destruction.

Frank is complaining about the power of the White House veto threat to thwart efforts to expand the terrorism risk insurance program.

Because of the veto threat and the ability of Republicans to block action in the Senate, “there is more democracy in Iraq the last few days, under American leadership, than there is the U.S. Congress,” Frank said in response to Senate passage of the narrow version of H.R. 2761.

Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., chairman of the Senate Banking Committe, says he is confident that the House and Senate can get a terrorism risk program bill passed before Congress adjourns for the year.

“Barney Frank and I have a very good relationship,” Dodd says.

The American Council of Life Insurers, Washington, says it will try to get group life added to the terrorism risk program bill while members of the House and Senate hammer out the final version of the bill in a conference committee.

“It will be tough but we are hoping for the best,” ACLI spokesman Jack Dolan says. “Those who follow the group life market recognize the importance of including group life in TRIA. … We will continue making our case that group life is important to the financial security of millions of workers.”


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