A bill to extend an expiring federal terrorism insurance program effectively died on Tuesday when the U.S. Senate failed to reach an agreement to hold a vote before Congress wraps up its business for the year.
The program, created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that provides a federal insurance backstop for owners of skyscrapers, sports stadiums and other large projects that could face terrorism threats, is now expected to lapse at year-end.
Congress will need to reintroduce the measure in January in both the Senate and House of Representatives.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the bill was "killed" because retiring Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn had wanted to make last-minute changes and would not drop his objections.
"We all know if we change the bill, it's gone," Reid said on the Senate floor, adding that any changes would mean that it would have to be sent back to the House of Representatives.
The House passed the measure last week, but has left Washington for a holiday break until Jan. 6.
"They're gone, they're not going to change anything in the bill. We've been told that many times," Reid said.
In a final act as a Senator, Coburn had objected to a section of the bill that creates a licensing program to allow insurance agents to sell across state lines.
Coburn said he wanted states to be able to opt out of the program and wanted the measure to expire in two years. The House-passed bill would extend the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act for six years and double the threshold for losses at which the backstop kicks in to $200 million.
Lawmakers created the terrorism insurance program after the 2001 attacks, when insurers lost money and threatened to stop offering insurance against the chance of similar attacks.