Tuesday, November 23, 2010

HR 5498 Status 11-18-10

Last week the House Homeland Security Committee finally got around to publishing their report (House Report 111-659) on HR 5498, the WMD Prevention and Preparedness Act of 2010. This bill was introduced with much fanfare back in June and the Committee ordered reported favorably at their hearing on June 23rd. It only took five months to produce a committee report; so much for any chance of this bill being considered by the House. Add to that the fact that the Speaker extended the time limit for the House Energy and Commerce Committee to complete their consideration of the bill (no hearings to date) until December 3rd and we might as well declare this bill dead.

The proposed revision of the language of HR 5498 does little to increase the impact that this bill would have on the chemical community. This bill is basically a bio-security bill with a section on radiological dispersion weapons and only the occasional mention in passing of chemical weapons. It never discusses, addresses, or acknowledges the possibility of industrial chemicals being employed as chemical weapons, either in-situ or as delivered weapons.

The generic WMD provisions that I discussed in my earlier blog on this bill remain in the legislation. If this bill were to pass these provisions might have some measure of affect on the chemical security community, but that would only occur if the people at DHS had more recognition of the potential uses of industrial chemicals as WMD than did this Committee.

Well, I will say one thing in the defense of the House Committee; they were much faster at publishing their report on this bill than their Senate counterparts have been in reporting on their WMD legislation (S 1649). The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee ordered S 1649 reported last November and have yet to publish their report.

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