House Eyes Terror Insurance Vote as Negotiators Near Agreement

Posted December 4, 2014 at 2:05pm

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the House will vote next week on a plan to extend the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act ahead of a year-end deadline, as congressional sources reported significant progress Thursday toward a compromise agreement.

“We will have legislation on TRIA on the floor next week,” the California Republican said.

A possible deal, which could move separately or be attached to the spending package to fund the government, comes after meetings between House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., and McCarthy. It would have to pass on the floor early in the week to provide the Senate time to accept the compromise, assuming it can clear procedural hurdles in the chamber.

The progress will come as a relief to the business community, which has been pushing hard for reauthorization of a law many see as vital to maintain cost-effective operations.

The final result would represent a compromise between legislation (S 2244) passed by the Senate and a House bill (HR 4871) that would restructure the program and add new restrictions, though the terms appear to be closer to the Senate’s proposal. Still up in the air is whether any amendments to the 2010 financial regulatory overhaul (PL 111-203), known as Dodd-Frank, will be included.

Lawmakers have so far agreed to extend the government backstop of losses insured by terrorist attacks for six years and raise the threshold to trigger federal assistance to $200 million, up from $100 million. The bill is likely not going to have to include offsets, as initially sought by Hensarling.

A bill passed by the Senate would extend the program for seven years and keep the trigger at $100 million. Hensarling had pushed an extension of five years that would have created a bifurcated system in which the government would only step in after $500 million in damages from conventional attacks. It would not change the trigger for nuclear, biological, chemical and radiological attacks. Negotiators agreed to drop the bifurcation idea.

Senate Democrats and House Republicans are still debating what modifications to Dodd-Frank to include. The Senate wants language echoing a bill (S 2270) to shield large insurance companies from bank-like capital requirements under the law. The House wants that change as well as provisions (HR 634) to shield non-financial companies or end users from new derivatives regulation, which Senate Democrats are resisting.

Emma Dumain and Kate Ackley contributed to this story.