Congress will be required to re-vote several years down the road on whether to sustain enactment of legislation creating a clearinghouse aimed at streamlining agent licensing.
An agreement by the Senate leadership, clearing the way for a vote today or Wednesday on legislation reauthorizing the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) for seven years, allows a vote on an amendment that will establish the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers (NARAB).
However, as the price for allowing the amendment to be added, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., insisted that a provision is included in the amendment shutting down NARAB two years after enactment. The amendment adding NARAB to the TRIA bill is being sponsored by Sen. John Tester, D-Montana.
Earlier, during a Senate Banking Committee debate on a flood insurance bill that added the NARAB provision Jan. 30, Coburn sought a provision allowing states to opt-out of NARAB. That is a concern of industry officials, who desire NARAB as a means of making it easier for agents to sell insurance interstate. His amendment was rejected on the Senate floor, 75-24.
According to an industry lobbyist, Coburn last week “backtracked” on his agreement to allow his amendment to be considered to let states opt out, and threatened to hold up the entire TRIA bill if NARAB was offered.
The lobbyist said that Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, negotiated between Tester and Coburn and came up with the two year sunset. But the clock on the sunset won’t start ticking until the first license is issued, the lobbyist said. Moreover, the lobbyist said, it will probably take two years to get the program up and running.
Industry officials were unavailable for comment, but an industry lawyer familiar with the bill said that, while it is a setback, the requirement that the sunset provision be included is not necessarily fatal to the program.
Another official said that, “Certainly it is our hope that the House and the Senate will ultimately agree, and NARAB will be created without a sunset.”
But, this official said, “This agreement assures that NARAB will be attached to the Senate bill, just as we now have assurances that NARAB will be attached to the House bill.”
“Getting it up and running is the important thing,” the lawyer said. “Once it gets going, it will prove itself.” Indeed, another lobbyist said, “There is very strong, bipartisan, bicameral support for NARAB.”