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House panel OKs terror backstop extension


WASHINGTON--The House Financial Services Committee approved an amended version of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Revision and Extension Act late Wednesday afternoon.

The amended bill passed by a vote of 49 to 20. The most significant amendment calls for extending the federal insurance backstop by 15 years rather than the 10 years provided in the version of the bill approved by the committee's Capital Markets, Insurance and Government Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee last week.

The longer extension of the program, currently slated to expire at the end of the year, was endorsed by the panel's chairman, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. But the ranking member of the committee, Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., read a July 25 letter from Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson spelling out the administration's opposition to even a 10-year extension.

Another committee member--Rep. Richard Baker, R-La.--warned that a 15-year extension could draw a presidential veto.

Among other changes, the committee also approved amendments that would exempt insurers with annual direct premiums of less than $50 million from having to offer coverage for nuclear, chemical, biological and radiological attacks--if they could show that doing so would jeopardize their solvency--as well as an amendment that would tie the size of insured losses required to trigger the backstop to the rate of inflation.

The full House is expected to take up the measure after it returns from its August recess next month.