The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to extend for 15 years the federal financial "backstop" for terrorism-related insurance claims, despite a veto warning from the White House.
The legislation, which the House passed on Sept. 19 by a 312-110 vote, also would add group life to the lines of insurance the federal backup program covers.
The program was established in 2002 by the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, and extended in 2005. The program now is to lapse on Dec. 31 if Congress doesn't extend it again.
The Bush administration has objected to the House bill, in part because of the length of the extension. The Office of Management Budget said in a Sept. 17 statement that the House bill "effectively makes [the insurance program] permanent, increases the role of the federal government and expands the scope of coverage well beyond what is needed." OMB added that senior administration officials would recommend a presidential veto of the bill.
The 322-110 House margin is more than the two-thirds needed to override a veto.
Martin DePoy, steering committee chairman of the Coalition to Insure Against Terrorism, said the 15-year extension is an important feature of the bill, letting companies plan, finance and carry out large projects. The coalition includes construction industry groups such as the American Council of Engineering Companies, Associated Builders and Contractors, Associated General Contractors and National Association of Home Builders as well as real estate and transportation organizations.
The focus for the legislation, its supporters and foes, will shift to the Senate, where there has been no action yet on the issue.