The Senate yesterday went along with House measures that fund the military and rest of the federal government through next September.
The government funding measure includes two provisions of particular interest to the property/casualty insurance industry: a reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) until September 30, 2020, and a renewal of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program (TRIA) for seven years.
The flood program, along with all government spending, was scheduled to expire today. The current TRIA authorization had been set to expire on Dec. 31, 2020.
The same funding measures previously passed the House and have been sent to President Donald Trump for signing into law. The White House said the president will sign the bills.
The defense funding bill (H.R. 1158) passed 81-11; the non-defense measure (H.R. 1865) was agreed to on a vote of 71-23. Opponents cited concerns about how the additional spending without corresponding cuts would add to the federal deficit.
The package also repeals several Obamacare taxes including an excise tax on medical devices, a health insurer fee and the so-called “Cadillac tax,” a 40% excise tax on high-end health insurance plans scheduled to go into effect in 2022.
Insurance agents applauded repeal of the Cadillac tax. “Without repeal, this harmful tax would have been crippling to many of our small business members and their clients and would have only worsened over time. The damage to the employee benefits marketplace could have been devastating,” said Bob Rusbuldt, president and CEO, Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I”).
Insurers welcomed the seven-year TRIA extension.
“This is a great example of how Congress got their job done, on time, with the interest of the American people at the forefront. Because TRIA is critical to the stability of the nation’s economy, businesses of all sizes, and the insurance markets, Congress enacted the Program well before it was set to expire. This is a job well-done,” said Nat Wienecke, senior vice president of federal government relations for the American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA).
“By voting today to extend the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program, the Senate has helped protect our economy from the threat of terrorism and to keep our communities growing. The program helped revive our economy in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, bringing back thousands of jobs lost as development halted due to a lack of affordable terrorism coverage. Since then it has provided the financial security for development in cities and towns from coast to coast, and thanks to overwhelming support from congressional leadership and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, it will continue to do so,” said Jimi Grande, senior Vice President of Government Affairs
National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC).
The legislation raises the age to purchase tobacco and nicotine vaping products nationally to 21.
The legislation also includes the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act (SECURE Act), a bipartisan measure designed to make it easier for small business employees, home-care workers, and part-time workers to save for retirement. It removes the maximum age limits on retirement contributions and raises to 72 the age deadline for drawing on accounts.
The final package does not include a bipartisan proposal to bring an end to surprise medical bills.
The agreements took weeks of bipartisan negotiations by Democratic and Republican lawmakers and the White House.
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