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D.C. agenda taking form


The shape of the new Congress' risk management agenda has become clearer during the two months since the election. As we hoped, the new chairmen of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs and the House Financial Services committees quickly endorsed extension of the federal terrorism insurance backstop, which will expire Dec. 31 unless it is renewed or replaced.

Fortunately, the Senate Banking Committee's chairman, Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., said he'd prefer a permanent solution rather than renewing the program every other year. His House counterpart, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., hasn't committed to a permanent solution, but is clear he wants something lasting at least five years.

Both lawmakers want to move on terrorism insurance sooner rather than later, and we wish them the best of luck in doing so. While we're fully aware of the administration's opposition to a permanent government-backed terrorism insurance program, we certainly hope that the president would not risk alienating a good chunk of his base of support by vetoing a terrorism insurance bill that's almost certainly guaranteed to enjoy broad bipartisan support.

There have also been some indications that the new Congress will revisit insurance regulation. Whether insurers and brokers should be permitted to seek federal, rather than state, regulation is not likely to be answered quickly, and perhaps not answered with finality in this Congress. Nevertheless, we hope that at least incremental reform can be enacted before this Congress adjourns for the last time.