News and Document archive source
copyrighted material disclaimer at bottom of page

NewsMinesecurity — Viewing Item

Passes terror insurance { November 15 2002 }

Original Source Link: (May no longer be active)

House Passes Terrorism Insurance Bill
Senate to Take Up Measure Called Vital to Economy

By Edward Walsh
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 15, 2002; Page A01

The House passed legislation last night to provide up to $100 billion to help the insurance industry cover claims from future terrorist attacks, sending the measure to the Senate, where Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) has promised prompt action.

The voice vote was a victory for President Bush, who made the legislation's passage a priority in recent weeks, and for the insurance industry and developers of major, high-profile real estate projects. They have said the difficulty in obtaining affordable terrorism insurance has threatened many of their projects and undermined the overall economy.

Racing to wind up its lame-duck session after the Nov. 5 midterm elections, the House derailed another major bill, to overhaul the nation's bankruptcy laws. On a procedural vote, lawmakers blocked consideration of the measure, effectively killing it for this Congress.

Early today, in a parliamentary maneuver that critics likened to "the legislative equivalent of a fraternity stunt," the House reversed itself, dropped a controversial provision dealing with abortion clinics and sent the bill to the Senate, where foes said it would die.

The House agreed to a five-week extension of unemployment benefits for laid-off workers, over protests from Democrats that it was too little in light of high jobless rates in many areas. The Senate last night passed a more generous unemployment package that would extend benefits through March, raising the possibility of an end-of-the-session snag between the two houses.

Meanwhile last night, White House and Senate negotiators agreed on legislation to create an independent commission to investigate the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But an effort to revive a scaled-back version of Bush's proposal to bolster faith-based charities fizzled in the Senate when Democrats tried to add provisions, prompting a partisan deadlock.

The key issue in the terrorism insurance debate centered not on the bill's insurance provisions but on Republicans' longstanding efforts to curb large jury awards in liability lawsuits. The House earlier passed a version of the bill that would have prohibited victims of terrorist attacks from seeking punitive damages from companies and real estate owners.

Courts sometimes assess punitive damages -- on top of awards for monetary loss or pain and suffering -- to punish a company, manufacturer or other party deemed to have recklessly caused injuries or death. The Senate omitted the proposed ban, and the White House last month backed down from insisting on a ban on punitive damages.

But the compromise bill that House and Senate negotiators agreed to did not satisfy House Republican leaders, who strongly supported the ban on punitive damages. They held up consideration of the measure by the full House until last night. But in the end, virtually all opposition to the compromise bill evaporated as the House passed the measure by voice vote.

The bill would provide as much as $100 billion over three years to cover 90 percent of future terrorism-related insurance claims. Government aid would kick in when terrorism-related losses exceed minimum levels of an insurance company's premiums. The threshold levels to qualify for the aid would be 7 percent of premiums in the first year, 10 percent in the second year and 15 percent in the third year.

The measure would consolidate civil lawsuits stemming from a terrorist attack in a single federal court for trial under the laws of the state where the attack took place. That provision, supported by Republicans, is designed to prevent defendants such as property owners and insurance companies from facing multiple claims in several jurisdictions from the same event.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Michael G. Oxley (R-Ohio) portrayed the bill as vital for economic development. He said a recent survey estimated that real estate projects worth more than $15 billion have been canceled or are being delayed because of a lack of terrorism insurance coverage.

"This bill is absolutely necessary to the well-being of the American economy," Oxley said. "We need this backstop now."

The only criticism of the bill was voiced by House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), reflecting disappointment that the punitive-damages provision had been dropped.

He said the measure will provide "no protection from predatory trial lawyers." He said Bush agreed that this was a shortcoming in the bill and had promised to work to correct it.

"We're going to lock the door to the federal treasury against trial lawyers," said DeLay, who will be House majority leader in the next Congress.

There has been considerable debate over the need for the government to intervene in the insurance market to help companies and real estate developers obtain coverage for acts of terrorism. After last year's attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, many insurance companies stopped offering such coverage, while others steeply increased premiums.

But in recent months, more terrorism coverage has become available. Some consumer groups charged that the federal legislation was little more than an insurance industry bailout.

"It's a handout and it's way too generous," J. Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America, said when House and Senate negotiators announced a compromise.

Earlier this week, New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. issued a report detailing a steep increase in insurance premiums and a sharp drop in the availability of insurance coverage there after the Sept. 11 attacks. He said premiums on some expensive Manhattan properties rose by 73 percent.

"Insurance companies are taking advantage of New Yorkers," Thompson said. "They are not helping the city right now, and this is undermining our ability to retain and attract new business. Once again, New Yorkers are being penalized."

In other congressional action yesterday, the Senate approved a bill meant to deter terrorism at the nation's 361 seaports. The House extended a law to prevent automatic cuts in Medicare and other entitlement programs and extended the 1996 welfare law through March.

Staff writers Helen Dewar and Dana Milbank contributed to this report.

2002 The Washington Post Company

16k murders usa 2002 { June 16 2003 }
America gestapo
Americans want lobby records disclosed to public { January 27 2006 }
Anti terrorism powers
Area51 watchdog raided
Big brother society aclu
Bioweapons labs built all over us
Bmw trapped computer crashed { May 13 2003 }
Britain 4m cctv surveillance cameras
Bush 911 02 speech { September 12 2002 }
Cia asks colleges more black recruits { September 16 2003 }
Cia expands airplane front companies { May 31 2005 }
Cold war sirens for terror alerts
Colombia citizen spies { August 29 2002 }
Congressman ron paul warns of police state { December 20 2004 }
Dc air defense { September 11 2002 }
Dc police traveled to israel for tactics { August 4 2004 }
Detained at airport for harry potter { October 18 2001 }
Drugs terrorism { August 8 2002 }
England draconian laws { November 14 2001 }
Extends secrecy area 51
Fbis made mafia man
Federal agents raid hells angels sites { December 3 2003 }
Fema no longer focused on domestic disaster { September 6 2005 }
Fire fighters question president cuts first responders
Fireworks and sharpshooters welcome 2004 new york { January 1 2004 }
Fireworks homeland security rules { May 30 2003 }
Fox arrest { March 20 2002 }
Hong kong subversion law
Israel help targeted killings
Israeli scientists crack cell phone security { September 3 2003 }
Israelis fingerprinted us visa { November 26 2003 }
J edgar hoover [jpg]
Judge asks arab woman if terrorist { May 21 2003 }
Liberal imperialism { April 7 2002 }
Loosened intelligence
Man lost citizenship for nazi activities
Michigan city june riots { June 18 2003 }
Microsoft multi million homeland contract
Missiles at dc { February 2003 } [jpg]
Monitor bioterror health data { January 27 2003 }
Muslim raids { March 28 2002 }
New australian terror laws { June 26 2003 }
Newyork disease warning system { April 4 2003 }
Ottawa canada big brother { February 1 2003 }
Pakistani photo innocent
Passes terror insurance { November 15 2002 }
Patrol dc vehicles stinger missiles
Pens confiscated at travolta movie
Police dress homeless { May 27 2003 }
Police radio dead spots cell phones { August 18 2003 }
Police wonder why taser ignites petrol soaked man
Portland police excessive force blind 71 year woman { April 23 2004 }
Pre 911 pulls sites { September 10 2001 }
Security clearance jobs more financial beneficial { February 9 2006 }
Security efforts turning capital into armed camp { February 22 2004 }
Security over new years parties
Security tightens worldwide
Tanks readied { July 18 2002 }
Taser to blame in heart failures
Trains teen gestapo
Tri state security { March 20 2003 }
Uk abuse
UncleSamYourFreedoms [jpg]
Us raids warez servers across ten countries { April 23 2004 }
US reclassifies many documents in secret review { February 21 2006 }

Files Listed: 66


CIA FOIA Archive

National Security
Support one-state solution for Israel and Palestine Tea Party bumper stickers JFK for Dummies, The Assassination made simple