Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Energy and Commerce HR 908 Markup to Start Today

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will begin another two-day markup hearing this afternoon that will include action on HR 908, the Full Implementation of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) Act. As with the May 10th hearing that was to have included action on HR 908, this afternoon’s meeting will only be for making opening statements; actual work on the bill will take place tomorrow morning at 10:00 am EDT.

Again, this hearing is also scheduled to deal with two potentially controversial authorization bills. The second bill here will be HR 1939, dealing with the Consumer Product Safety Commission. This time HR 908 has been given first listing; presumably this means that it will be taken-up first for action tomorrow morning.

There are no proposed amendments listed on the Committee web site, but the Committee memo about the HR 908 markup notes that members may file amendments to be considered up to two hours before they are to be offered for consideration during the hearing. This provides an effective deadline of 8:00 am tomorrow morning for submission of amendments.

There have been an increasing number of media reports that there is some possible dissention in the Committee about the lack of some of the provisions that Democrats have been pushing for the last couple of years. These have included reports that Rep. Green (D,TX), a co-sponsor of the legislation (officially making the bill bi-partisan) has expressed some concerns about the amendment process for the bill.

Regardless of any potential Democratic opposition, this bill will certainly be reported favorably by the full Committee tomorrow. The only thing that remains to be seen is that if there are any amendments that might make its acceptance in the Democrat controlled (barely) Senate more likely. The most likely amendment to be included (and still a low probability event) would be the elimination of the water treatment facility exemption to CFATS coverage. It’s not clear that the Committee would have the authority to extend that change to waste water treatment facilities.

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