As I mentioned last week there were four CFATS extension bills submitted in Congress last Friday. I have already reviewed S 473 and HR 901. Today I’ll take a quick look at the two remaining bills; HR 908 and HR 916. Both bills are relatively simple and straightforward.
Representatives Murphy (R, PA) and Green (D, TX) introduced HR 908, the Full Implementation of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Act. This bill has a single provision; it extends the expiration of the current §550 authority for the CFATS regulations until October 4th, 2017. In keeping with the title of the bill the intent seems to be to allow the full implementation of the current CFATS program. Given the current pace of the SSP inspection process, it could easily take until 2017 or even longer.
According to a Houston, TX based blog the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep Upton (R, MI) has endorsed this bill. This is important because his Committee is one of two committees that has been assigned to review the three house CFATS bills (the other, of course being Homeland Security).
Congressman Dent (R, PA) introduced HR 916, the Continuing Chemical Facilities Antiterrorism Security Act of 2011, a title shared with S 473. This bill is a duplicate of last session’s HR 5186 which was a companion bill to the one offered in the Senate by Sen. Collins (R, ME) (which was amended in Committee to become what is now S 473).
This bill would extend the CFATS authorization until October 4th, 2015 and would add the essentially the same training and exercise provisions found in S 473. The advisory committee and the repeal of §550 from S 473 are not included in Dent’s current bill.
So we have four separate bills that would extend the current CFATS authorization. Two are theoretically bipartisan (S 473 and HR 908). Three have the support of committee chairs [S 473 (Collins is the moral equivalent of chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee), HR 901 (King of the House Homeland Security Committee) and HR 908 (Upton of the House Energy and Commerce Committee)]. We can expect a re-issue of last years’ bills from Sen. Lautenberg, but they won’t make it out of committee; they are too partisan for this Congress.
Any of the three House bills could pass in the House this year, but all would certainly be modified in Committee and on the floor. It will probably come down to HR 901 as King is a co-sponsor and Committee Chair. The Senate bill will be the most heavily modified in a floor debate. Since it probably would not be directly taken up by the House (due to likely weakened IST, labor participation and whistleblower provisions that I expect to see added on the floor of the Senate) the language would most likely be added as a substitute for what ever house bill gets sent to the Senate.
If we get specific CFATS legislation this year (and the chances are probably better than they have ever been) it will probably include at least some of Sen. Collin’s provisions.