WASHINGTON – President Bush met with a bipartisan group of House and Senate conferees on Tuesday to push for a compromise on different versions of terrorism insurance bills they have just passed, allowing the government to initially subsidize terrorism insurance and revive the industry.
Convening a Cabinet Room meeting, the president said more than $15.5 billion worth of construction projects and 300,000 jobs are indefinitely on hold because builders can't get insurance against terrorist attacks.
"All of us here around the table are concerned about jobs, concerned about our economy. We want people to be able to find work," Bush said at the closed meeting, which included Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Phil Gramm, R-Texas.
He gave the conferees three days to come up with a solution for resolving the differences in the House and Senate plans.
"I asked the members to get at it, to work hard in the next couple of days and get an agreement by Friday. ... This is a way for us to work together to put people back to work here in America," Bush added.
The president said the Senate-passed version is too generous to lawyers. Democrats say the House-passed bill would put unfair limits on punitive damages.
The Sept. 11 attacks cost insurance companies $30 to $50 billion, and led many of them to stop handling terror risks altogether.
Aides say ripple effects of high cost insurance or insurance not being available cause problems ranging from curtailing police and fire services in small California towns to hiking ticket prices for fans of Tampa Bay Buccaneers, whose stadium's insurance policy has skyrocketed.
Fox News' Wendell Goler and the Associated Press contributed to this report.