House GOP unveils TRIA extension

House Republicans have put forward their own attempt to extend a terrorism insurance program set to expire at the end of the year.

Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) introduced Tuesday a five-year extension of the Terrorism Risk Insurance (TRIA) Act, which he said would “take off the training wheels” on the government backstop created after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

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The House Financial Services Committee is set to vote on the legislation Thursday.

TRIA was created in the aftermath of those attacks to provide a government safety net for the insurance industry, which was unable to bear the weight of the billions of dollars in losses. The program has been reauthorized three times since its creation, and major business groups are lining up for another one.

Some conservatives have expressed skepticism about repeatedly renewing a program that was originally meant as one-time relief following an historic attack.

Neugebauer’s bill would shift more of the burden of compensating victims of a terrorist attack to the private sector. By 2019, the program will be triggered by an attack not caused by a nuclear, chemical, biological or radiological attack only if damages exceed $500 million. The current threshold is $100 million.

His bill would also require insurance companies to cover 20 percent of the costs of losses, compared to the current 15 percent level. And it would make no changes to the program for one year, to give the private sector time to adjust to those changes.

If Neugebauer’s bill gains traction, it will eventually have to be reconciled with similar TRIA legislation making its way through the Senate. There, senators have coalesced around a seven-year extension of the program that also makes several changes to require the private sector to shoulder a larger burden of the costs.

The Senate Banking Committee unanimously agreed to the legislation earlier this month, and it is now awaiting action by the full Senate.

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