GOP Sen. Coburn holding up terrorism bill

The Senate is expected to reauthorize the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) despite opposition from Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and other Democrats to a change the bill makes to the Wall Street reform legislation.

The House has already approved a reauthorization of the insurance legislation that includes the Wall Street changes and left its bill to the Senate as a take-it-or-leave-it proposition.


Sources close to the negotiations over the bill say Democrats are likely to approve the House’s bill rather than risk not reauthorizing TRIA, which some have speculated could lead to the cancellation of the Super Bowl.

Under the legislation approved by the House, the federal program would kick in when damages from a terrorist attack exceed $200 million. The House reauthorized the program for six years in a bipartisan 417-7 vote.

The change to the Wall Street reform law involves “end users” such as energy and agricultural companies that use derivatives. The changes allow them to avoid requirements imposed on banks in the Wall Street reform bill when they use derivatives as a hedge, but not for speculative gain.

Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) are among the critics of the change, but sources on Monday expected it would not prevent the Senate from moving the bill.

“Schumer doesn’t want end-user language involved but understands TRIA is more important,” said one financial services industry source. “His focus is on getting the bill passed despite the hurdles.”

Schumer spokesman Matthew House, however, said the path forward remained “unclear” because of the Wall Street provision. The White House has said it “strongly opposes” the provision but has not threatened a veto.

The timing of a final Senate vote is unclear because of Sen. Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnOvernight Energy: Experts criticize changes to EPA lead, copper rule | House panel looks into plan to limit powers of EPA science advisers | Senate bill aims for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 Trump budget proposal funds financially struggling museum in Reagan's childhood home The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Worries grow about political violence as midterms approach MORE (R-Okla.), who opposes another provision in the bill.

He is criticizing the creation of a national, nonprofit clearinghouse that would allow insurance agents to register and establish a national standard, and he says states should be able to opt out of the program.

Coburn spokeswoman Elaine Joseph said that Coburn wants to offer an amendment allowing for the opt-out.

“If NARAB [National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers] is as popular as proponents say that it is, no state will ever opt out and the amendment will be moot,” Joseph said.

If Coburn uses all of the tools he can to hold up a vote, the Senate could remain in session until Saturday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Monday acknowledged he needed cooperation from every senator to end the session earlier.

“We're going to have to be here until we finish our work, whether that's Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “So everyone should understand you can't be leaving.”

The financial services industry lobbyist said that leadership is signaling TRIA will come for a vote on Wednesday or Thursday.

“Coburn is the biggest problem,” the lobbyist said.

More than 40 business, tourism and banking groups wrote to lawmakers on Monday urging the Senate to pass the House version of TRIA's reauthorization.

“TRIA likewise ensures economic resiliency in the event of a terror attack on our nation, while simultaneously protecting taxpayers via a mandatory recoupment mechanism,” wrote the groups, which included the Financial Services Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Travel Association.