House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) is pushing back against critics who suggest opposing a blanket reauthorization of the government's terrorism insurance program (TRIA) is unpatriotic.
Hensarling has long argued that reforming TRIA would lower taxpayers' risk following the aftermath of a catastrophic terrorist attack.
"Critics have and will likely continue to contend that such reforms are somehow unfair or unpatriotic. Nothing could be less true," Hensarling wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Times. "The federal government, free from competition and unable to make hard choices, has a long and ugly history of insurance schemes that underestimate and misprice risk. Each time the purported beneficiaries end up more at risk while taxpayers end up footing the bill."
Congress created TRIA following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It provides a federal backstop in case of a terrorist attack. Congress must reauthorize TRIA in the lame-duck session, or it will shut down.
The insurance and business community supports the Senate's seven-year TRIA reauthorization bill, which passed in July on a 93-4 vote.
Supporters of TRIA have argued that the program helps provide economic certainty, ensuring that the economy would recover from a terrorist attack.
In a separate op-ed that ran in The Washington Times on Wednesday, Host Hotels and Resorts CEO Ed Walter wrote that "with the growing terrorist threat from the turbulent Middle East, America must maintain safeguards to ensure that the economy will recover from terrorist attacks."
"Economic resiliency is an essential part of homeland security," Walter wrote.
Hensarling reluctantly supported a five-year TRIA reauthorization bill that moved through his committee in June. But the legislation lacked enough support by House Republicans, and it was never brought to a vote.
That sets the stage for a lame-duck ticking clock toward TRIA's potential expiration. Leadership has recently signaled they're open to a short-term reauthorization.
House Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerRyan delays committee assignments until 2017 Lobbying World 'Ready for Michelle' PACs urge 2020 run MORE (R-Ohio) said in a statement, "a short-term extension may be necessary" in order to include reforms to the program.
"I support Chairman Hensarling's goal of enacting a long-term TRIA extension with reforms that protect taxpayers," BoehnerJohn BoehnerRyan delays committee assignments until 2017 Lobbying World 'Ready for Michelle' PACs urge 2020 run MORE said in a statement.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) also indicated that he's open to a short-term extension.
McCarthy said in a public statement that "it is important a long-term TRIA extension includes reforms that protects American taxpayers."
"I support his efforts to achieve that even if a short-term extension is needed," McCarthy said in the statement.