Congress gave overwhelming approval Thursday to a federal terrorism insurance program that lawmakers had allowed to lapse at the end of last year despite warnings from commercial real estate and construction firms.

The program, created to encourage insurers to continue offering coverage on office buildings, sports stadiums and other potential targets after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, cleared the Republican-controlled Senate, 93-4, just weeks after the measure had stalled over objections from a single senator.


The House of Representatives approved the legislation earlier this week. President Barack Obama is expected to sign it, despite objections from some Democrats about a rollback of derivatives regulations included in the bill.

Though the program enjoyed wide bipartisan support last year, it was suspended after lawmakers failed to reach an agreement to address concerns from Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Coburn, who since retired, opposed a provision that would make it easier for insurance agents and brokers to sell policies across state lines.

Sen. Ben Cardin said the program is "crucial for businesses across Maryland and our nation."

"Congress is acting to prevent disruptions that could have exposed these businesses to unpredictable premium increases and created a major obstacle for obtaining new project financing," the Maryland Democrat said in a statement. "The damage to our economy, if the policies were needed, would have been incalculable."

Supporters said the program revived commercial development after the 2001 attacks, when terrorism policies became expensive. The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, enacted a year later, was intended to be a temporary initiative in which the government would share the cost of large insurance losses.

Congress extended the program in 2005 and 2007.

One study, from insurance giant Marsh, found Maryland had the second-highest rate of coverage among that company's clients. Experts speculated the high coverage rate may be due to the state's large federal government presence and its concentration of academic institutions.

Under the program, the government would step in to help insurers cover losses in excess of $100 million.