Senator Criticizes ‘Unclean’ Terrorism Insurance Bill Passed by House

By | December 12, 2014

Democratic U.S. Senator Charles Schumer on Thursday called for the U.S. House of Representatives to extend a federal terrorism insurance program by passing a “clean” bill with no controversial extra provisions.

The House on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would give the program six more years. The measure would also adjust a provision of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street oversight law, which many Senate Democrats oppose.

“By playing games and refusing to pass a clean extension of terrorism insurance, the House Republicans have put terrorism insurance at risk,” Schumer, the No. 3 Senate Democrat, said in a statement. Schumer, who is from New York, was one of the negotiators working on extending the insurance program.

Congress created the terrorism insurance program after the 2001 attacks on the United States, when many insurers lost money and warned they might stop insuring against terrorist threats.

The program established a federal backstop that would kick in after an attack if insurers lost a certain amount of money. It has been reauthorized twice, though it has never been used, and expires at the end of the year if lawmakers do not renew it.

The Senate in July passed a bill giving the program seven more years. House and Senate negotiators later agreed on a six-year extension that doubles the amount of losses needed to trigger the backstop to $200 million.

The House bill that was approved on Wednesday included language adjusting Dodd-Frank’s treatment of so-called “end user” businesses, such as agriculture and energy firms engaged in swap trades. Some Democrats support this change, but they complained about its inclusion in an unrelated bill.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Tuesday urged lawmakers not to include controversial extra provisions in any bill to renew the insurance program. On Thursday, Schumer said the House should pass the Senate bill.

Two Senate Democratic aides said late Wednesday it was not clear whether senators would debate the House bill in the limited time before lawmakers leave Washington for the year.

(Reporting by Emily Stephenson; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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