President Bush has signed a two-year extension of a federal terrorism re-insurance program and a bill that provides tax incentives for rebuilding Gulf Coast communities that were devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.The extension of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, which was due to expire Jan. 1, is a major victory for real estate and financial services groups. "It would have been difficult, if not impossible, for policyholders to obtain affordable terror coverage in the absence of such a [federal] program," according to the Coalition to Insure Against Terrorism. "Construction and hiring would have slowed." The president also signed the Gulf Coast Opportunity Zone Act (H.R. 4440), which allows Gulf Coast states and municipalities to issue tax-exempt bonds to finance commercial and residential projects. The tax bill also contains special provisions to help businesses recover and rebuild. "It's a step forward to fulfill this country's commitment to help rebuild," the president said. Congress also passed, and cleared for the president's signature, the defense appropriations bill, which includes $29 billion in hurricane disaster assistance. "These bills are important for the future of the Gulf Coast," Mr. Bush said.

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