Terrorism Risk Insurance Act passes as top priority of new Congress

By Bill Parry

The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act was passed overwhelmingly by the Senate last week and will head to President Barack Obama’s desk where it is expected to be signed soon. The reauthorization of TRIA through 2020 is essential to New York City’s economy providing crucial federal insurance for the owners of skyscrapers and other large projects that could be a target of terrorist strikes, elected officials said.

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria), a senior Democratic member of the House Financial Services Committee and the lead co-sponsor of the TRIA Reauthorization Act of 2013, had issued dire warnings when Congress failed to pass the legislation before the end of the last session after months of negotiations.

“The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act should not have been allowed to expire in the first place,” Maloney said. “The result has been an uncertainty for businesses, loan agreement defaults, developmental projects stalled and downgrades threatened. New York City, in particular, felt the pain of this self inflicted wound.”

TRIA has operated at no cost to taxpayers. RAND Corp. found that eliminating the program could increase federal spending by as much as $7 billion in the event of a major attack.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, (D-NY) who sponsored the legislation in the Senate, said, “This bill doesn’t just benefit New York, it benefits the skyscraper in Los Angeles, the sports stadium in Nebraska, the shopping center in Tennessee.”

The original TRIA program was created by Congress in 2002 in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks to ensure commercial terrorism insurance was both available and affordable. Enactment of the law helped to foster continued real estate and economic development in the United States, particularly in Lower Manhattan as New York City rebuilt from the attacks.

In the 14 months after Sept. 11, and before enactment of TRIA, $15 billion in real estate-related transactions were delayed or canceled and more than 30,000 American jobs were lost.

“As a result of today’s Senate action, we are now one step closer to reauthorizing Terrorism Risk Insurance and giving businesses and industry the confidence to grow, invest and hire,” U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) said when the act passed the Senate Jan. 8. “While we should never have been in the position of allowing this vital economic backstop to expire in the first place, I’m pleased both sides of the aisle, in both chambers of Congress, have come together to make reauthorization of TRIA a priority in this new session of Congress.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr‌[email protected]‌local.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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