Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid opted to send the Senate home for the holidays rather than stick around for the extra days needed to save a popular terrorism insurance program.
The insurance law was passed after 9/11 to protect the economy from terror by federally insuring business losses exceeding $100 million in the event of a catastrophic attack. Major industries and big businesses, including the NFL, rely on the insurance, which is difficult to get in the private market.
The House voted overwhelmingly (417-7) to extend the program, but politics in the Senate prevented a vote, so the program will expire on December 31.
“We are incredibly disappointed in Congress, for waiting until the lame duck to reauthorize [the program], for allowing politics to trump policy and for failing the American people by not providing protection for our economy from a terrorist event,” Jimi Grande, senior vice president at the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, told Politico. “The country deserved better.”
Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn refused to consent to a vote on the bill Tuesday, objecting to an added provision that requires insurance agents to register with and pay a fee to a federal clearinghouse. Coburn said the provision violates states’ rights, and they should be allowed to opt out.
Reid could have gotten around Coburn’s objection by keeping the Senate around for a few more days of procedural votes, but chose to adjourn for the year instead.
Senate Democrats objected to another provision clarifying parts of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection act, saying it would water down the law. However, the bill almost certainly would have cleared the Senate if brought to a vote.
Reid apparently saved the insurance program as the last vote of the year to keep senators around for confirmation votes on a slew of President Obama’s nominees. “Reid and Schumer refused to file on this bill,” a GOP staffer told The Hill. “Absolutely refused. They chose instead to prioritize — and fill an entire weekend — with controversial nominations.”
The new Congress is expected to take up some form of the bill next year.
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