For the second time in two days, U.S. President George W. Bush has signed important legislation linked to the war on terrorism. The latest bill to become law deals with the economic impact of the terrorist threat.
One of the lasting impacts of last year's terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon has been a slump in building construction in the United States.
The problem is insurance. Lenders now want terrorism insurance before they will back a project. And that insurance has become extremely expensive.
The result has been a decline in new construction and fewer jobs for carpenters, electricians and others whose livelihood depends on those projects.
The bill signed by the president is designed to tackle the problem. Under a complex formula, the government will step in to help meet the costs to insurers, should a catastrophic attack occur. "With this new law, builders and investors can begin construction in real estate projects that have been stalled for too long and get our 'hard hats' back to work," said Mr. Bush, referring to construction workers.
A group of labor union leaders joined him on the podium for the signing ceremony, along with members of Congress. Mr. Bush talked about the economic losses brought on by the September 11 attacks and the construction plans put on hold. "By helping to ensure that terrorism insurance is affordable and available, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act will allow many construction projects to move forward and to help this economy grow," he said.
Mr. Bush signed the terrorism insurance bill less than 24 hours after he put his pen to legislation creating a new federal Department of Homeland Security. He said there is a link between the two.
"Yesterday, I signed into law the new Department of Homeland Security to organize our government for the long term challenge of protecting America," said the president. "Today, with terrorism insurance we are defending America by making our economy more secure. Both these achievements show the unity of our nation at a time of testing and our resolve to lead America to a better day."
The new Department of Homeland Security will absorb almost two dozen agencies with almost 170,000 employees. It is the largest federal government reorganization since 1947, when the Department of Defense was created.