GOP leadership entering terrorism insurance talks

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is entering talks on reauthorizing a federal program providing an insurance backstop in the case of a terrorist attack.

McCarthy met with House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who have been unable to work out a deal.

“I would say we’re making progress,” said a senior Democratic aide familiar with the meeting and the status of the negotiations. The aide declined additional comment.

{mosads}House leadership has signaled that, if Hensarling and Schumer aren’t able to broker a deal, they would support a six-to-nine-month short-term TRIA extension.

The Terrorism Risk Insurance Program (TRIA) will expire at the end of the year if it is not renewed.

Hensarling indicated to members of his panel on Wednesday that he was at an impasse with Schumer. The chairman has argued for reforms to the TRIA program, which he has noted was initiated after the September 11, 2001, attacks and was supposed to be temporary.

Business groups balked at a reform measure Hensarling passed through his committee this year.

Hensarling declined comment after the meeting.

TRIA allows for the federal government to front the costs for businesses following a massive terror attack in which the damages exceed $100 million.

Hensarling and Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) want to increase the $100 million threshold — or the so-called “trigger point” — to $500 million but, according to sources familiar with the negotiations, are open to lowering that trigger to $400 million.

Schumer and business groups have balked at talk of a short-term deal, but they might not be left with much of a choice.

The Senate voted 93-4 in July to approve a seven-year reauthorization bill.

Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) said the two sides didn’t appear close to a deal.

“We’re still quite a way away from getting any sort of final deal, but everybody’s talking,” he said.

Retiring-Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.) said he was “hopeful” for a long-term deal.

“I’ve seen things around here lately that make a lot of sense, and nothing happens,” Campbell said. “I’m frustrated with the fact that this thing expires in three weeks, and it’s hurting development out there.”

Campbell noted that many banks won’t issue loans to a new business if the firm hasn’t secured terror insurance. And since TRIA’s future is uncertain, firms and banks would be wary to start new projects, Campbell said.

“There’s a lot of blame to go around for why this thing isn’t settled yet, and I’ll just leave it at that,” he said.

This post was updated at 5:11 p.m.

Tags Chuck Schumer Insurance Jeb Hensarling Kevin McCarthy Terrorism TRIA
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