Tuesday, June 29, 2010

HR 5890 Introduced

Last Thursday HR 5890 was introduced in the House and the printed version of the bill became available yesterday. This bill would authorize the appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security for FY 2011. Both Chairman Lieberman (Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs) and Chairman Thompson (House Homeland Security Committee vowed to pass such a bill this year. The odd thing about this bill, however, is that it was introduced by Rep. King (R, NY), the Ranking Member of the House Homeland Security Committee, and cosponsored by the Republican members of that Committee. That combined with the fact that the bill was referred to six committees, including Armed Services of all things, means that this bill will likely never get considered by the House, particularly in an election year. Chemical Security Provisions This 414 page bill is a comprehensive authorization bill, with the potential to have wide spread affects of interest to the chemical security committee. Some of the titles that could apply to chemical security issues include:
TITLE II—Authorization Of Appropriations TITLE III—Congressional Oversight TITLE VI—Transportation Security TITLE VII—Maritime Security TITLE VIII—Infrastructure Protection And Cybersecurity TITLE XII—Miscellaneous Provisions
The following sections should be of particular interest to our community:
Sec. 685. Pipeline security study. Sec. 692. Surface transportation security. Sec. 694. Limitation on issuance of HAZMAT licenses. Sec. 709. Waterside security of certain dangerous cargo. Sec. 724. Risk-based cargo security program. Sec. 811. Extension of chemical facilities antiterrorism security program. Sec. 904. Metropolitan Medical Response System program. Sec. 1203. Civil liability for disclosure of protected security information.
The §811 provisions would extend the current §550 authorization for the CFATS program until October 4th, 2015. It would also add a voluntary chemical security training program and a voluntary chemical security exercise program. Readers of this blog will recognize that these are the same provisions found in S 2996 and its companion bill HR 5186. Congressional Oversight Even though the CFATS reauthorization provision would be primarily targeted at our community, I think that the most important provision of this bill would be found in §301(c) that deals with Congressional oversight of homeland security matters. That paragraph reads:
“The Speaker shall consider the recommendations of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States for consolidating oversight and review of homeland security, and to the maximum extent feasible, minimize the impact that the referral to multiple committees of matters under paragraph (a) related to homeland security and the Department of Homeland Security will have on the ability of the House of Representatives to provide clear and consistent guidance to the Department and act on such measures in a timely and effective manner consistent with those recommendations.”
If actually passed (unlikely with so many different committees having to sign off on this bill) this would greatly reduce the number of committees that would have their hand in the homeland security pie. This could greatly streamline the law making process for homeland security matters. I know that the leadership of DHS would greatly appreciate the decrease in the number of times that they have to explain the same thing to different committees. Committee chair are more likely to vote to completely stop their own pay than reduce the areas over which they exert power. This is not a partisan slap as the Republicans did nothing to address this problem when they controlled both houses of Congress and the White House. This is strictly a matter of the exercise of personal political power. That means that this provision would probably be doomed even if this bill had a chance

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