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Harry Reid Let Terrorism Insurance Die

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 so much as 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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