Brown Opening Statement at TRIA Markup

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ranking Member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee delivered the following remarks at a hearing to markup S. 2877, the “Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2019.”

Sen. Brown’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, follow:

We lost thousands of our friends and neighbors on September 11th, 2001. Since that day, almost ten thousand first responders have been diagnosed with serious illnesses related to the rescue effort.

Given that enormous human cost, you might wonder why this committee would focus on terrorism’s impact on the insurance markets.

The simple explanation is this: the communities, businesses, and the support networks that we rely on after violent tragedies depend on affordable terrorism insurance. We need to be there for our communities so they can be there for us.

The threat of terrorism has not passed since we started the terrorism risk insurance program. And we should be clear, terrorism doesn’t just threaten New York City, and its perpetrators don’t only come from abroad. Anywhere that people gather across the country can be a target – community centers, places of worship, hospitals, universities and sports stadiums. As Ohio communities that have been threatened by white supremacists know, this is a risk we all have to contend with.

And unfortunately, these homegrown threats are rising. The Anti-Defamation League estimates that extremist related acts of violence increased by more than a third from 2017 to 2018. It certainly doesn’t help that we have a president whose emboldened white supremacists.

The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act protects the institutions, businesses, and other organizations that help communities after tragedy strikes, whether they’re in Mansfield or Cleveland or Chillicothe in Ohio, or in Boise or Idaho Falls.

We hope these communities never have to call to collect on these policies – that’s the point of insurance. It’s there if these communities need it, but we work to make sure they never do.

That’s why I’m proud of the work we’ve been able to do in the Committee to extend this program for seven years in a bipartisan and bicameral way. I want to thank Chair Crapo, Senator Smith, and Senator Tillis for their leadership, and the members on the committee for their hard work.

We all agree there are some issues that the free market just can’t solve on its own. This is one of them, and it’s an example of what we can do when we come together for the country.

The Terrorism Risk Insurance Program is emblematic of our ability to use government to make the economy work better for everybody, especially during the most difficult times.

I think there are many ways we could use our government to come together and make people’s lives better. 

I hope my colleagues see what we’re doing here today as a model for progress on the many other problems we could fix for hardworking families if we worked together including worker pensions, Social Security, mortgages, affordable housing, healthcare, and food for low-income families.

It is also a model for the job-creating Export-Import Bank that hundreds of thousands of American workers on. Senator McConnell and the Trump Administration wasted years allowing the Bank to be partially shut down, sabotaging its important work and sacrificing thousands of good-paying American manufacturing jobs.

During the shutdown of EXIM, support for 250,000 jobs vanished. Workers in the heartland - in Ohio, in Pennsylvania, and yes, in Kentucky, rely on EXIM. The Senate needs to act on a long term reauthorization.  

I hope that the Committee’s cooperation today on the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program is an example for the Majority Leader and the rest of the Senate , and that we can continue important work to promote jobs and strengthen communities.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this markup.

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