Thursday, September 4, 2014

Senate Hold on HR 4007?

I’m hearing rumors from a couple of different sources that some unnamed business organization is shopping around trying to find a Republican Senator to put a hold on the consideration of HR 4007, the CFATS authorization bill approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee back in July. This seems odd since the two biggest chemical industry organizations SOCMA and the American Chemistry Council have both endorsed the bill (including the Senate changes).

Since I have not talked to anyone from this organization (I’m not sure if it is a business group or a company) I don’t know what their specific objection to the bill is, but I would guess that it is the whistleblower provisions (§2105) of the bill that raise the ire of the organization. That is a shame since the provisions in the Senate version of the bill are among the most watered down whistleblower provisions that I have seen attached to a chemical security bill.

Both homeland security committees have done an excellent job at working to get a bill that has extensive bipartisan support. This is the first time since chemical security legislation was first considered post-9/11 that there was a bill that was not sharply drawn along ideological lines. The chair of the two committees have done some excellent work on crafting a bill that could make it through the legislative process in a divided legislature. It would be a crying shame if a single organization, working through a single Senator, could prevent a comprehensive chemical facility security bill from coming to a vote in the Senate.

Don’t get me wrong. Even passage in the Senate does not make this bill a forgone conclusion. Since the Senate version is extensively different from the House version, it would still have to get through the conference process before it could head to the President. With spending bills (more probably a continuing resolution) and political posturing on the legislative agenda for the next two months (actually only 2 weeks early in September a short week late in the month), this bill could easily get lost in the political shuffle. But it won’t even have that chance if it does not come to a floor vote next week.

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