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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Extension of terrorism insurance program clears Congress

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The new Congress on Thursday secured an early bipartisan achievement when the Senate sent a bill to the president that would extend the federal government’s terrorism risk insurance program after it was surprisingly allowed to lapse at the end of last year.

The Senate cleared the legislation reauthorizing the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act through 2020 on a 93-4 vote after the House passed the bill on Wednesday on a 416-5 vote. The president is expected to sign it into law.

Extending the program has been a top priority for the business community, which has warned that commercial development projects, like new skyscrapers and sports stadiums, could be at risk because it would be difficult to secure funding for these projects without the government backstop in place.

Congress first enacted the program in 2002 following the Sept. 11 attacks to help cover insurance industry losses stemming from a terrorist attack that wrecks buildings and other commercial properties.

The program was allowed to expire on Dec. 31 after a series of year-end disagreements unrelated to the terrorism insurance program prevented enactment of the legislation despite broad support for the program — a move that shocked the business community.

But Republican leaders pledged to quickly move a bill this year and opted to stick with a deal crafted late last year by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to ensure a smooth process.

The Senate...

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