By Peter Schroeder - 06/03/14 11:32 AM EDT
The Senate Banking Committee unanimously approved legislation Tuesday that would extend a government backstop for the insurance industry in case of a terrorist attack.
The broad support for the legislation suggests it could quickly advance to the Senate floor for passage. However, the passage of another extension of the program is murkier in the House, as some conservatives gripe about extending another government program that was once intended to be temporary.
“In a post 9/11 world ... developers embarking on multimillion or billion dollar constructions projects need to know they can insure those investments,” said Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerConvention shows Democrats support fracking, activists on the fringe Dem ad blasts Indiana senate candidate on Social Security The Trail 2016: Unity at last MORE (D-N.Y.), a lead sponsor of the measure. “Without TRIA, they will not be able to and they will not develop.”
They also point out that the latest extension out of the Senate makes a number of tweaks to the program that require insurance companies to shoulder more of the costs if a terrorist attack were to occur.
But skeptics argued that the government is highly unlikely to recoup its costs under the bill, because it requires the industry to pay back the government after an attack via industry-wide assessments.
Sen. Tom CoburnTom CoburnRyan calls out GOP in anti-poverty fight The Trail 2016: Words matter Ex-Sen. Coburn: I won’t challenge Trump, I’ll vote for him MORE (R-Okla.) said the idea of the government increasing costs on the insurance industry after a massive terrorist attack is a fantasy, and pushed for the costs to be covered by up-front premiums before an attack.
“One should be incredulous of the idea of Congress moving forward with what is essentially a post-terrorism tax,” he said. “We wouldn’t do it. We’d back off.”
Coburn’s amendment to require up-front premiums ultimately failed at the committee, but Sen. Mark WarnerMark WarnerTim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense Democratic National Convention event calendar Liberal group: Kaine could be 'disastrous' VP pick MORE (D-Va.) lent his support. And several members offered praise for the change, including Chairman Tim JohnsonTim JohnsonFormer GOP senator endorses Clinton after Orlando shooting Housing groups argue Freddie Mac's loss should spur finance reform On Wall Street, Dem shake-up puts party at crossroads MORE (D-S.D.).
However, Johnson also cautioned that such a change would result in a significant negative score from the Congressional Budget Office, which would make the bill’s passage much more difficult politically.
“This is a situation where common sense and our CBO rules are pitted against each other,” said Sen. Mike CrapoMike CrapoGOP warming up to Cuba travel Ann Coulter: VP pick is Trump's first mistake Overnight Finance: Freedom Caucus moves to impeach IRS chief | Calls for US-UK trade talks | Clinton ally offers trade for Trump tax returns MORE (R-Idaho), the ranking Republican on the panel. Crapo also voted against Coburn’s amendment.
All senators ultimately backed the bill, clearing the way for consideration by the full Senate.
Meanwhile in the House, a number of extension bills have been introduced, but it is not clear yet how the GOP-led chamber would handle the issue. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) questioned the repeated extensions of the program, but has said he is willing to discuss another.
One challenge for TRIA backers in the House is that one of its loudest GOP advocates was Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.). Grimm stepped down from his position on the Financial Services Committee as he defends himself against 20 federal criminal counts.