Friday, July 4, 2014

CFATS Bill to House Floor Tuesday

Yesterday the House Majority Leader’s web site announced that HR 4007, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Program Authorization and Accountability Act of 2014, will come to the floor of the House for consideration on Tuesday. In an unusual move for a CFATS related bill, it will be considered under suspension of the rules with limited debate and no amendments.

The reason that this is unusual for a CFATS bill is that bills considered under suspension of the rules require a 2/3 vote (not >50%) to pass the bill. Bills that are considered in this manner are generally considered to be non-controversial and are expected to have widespread bipartisan support. This would mark the first time since the 9/11 attacks started serious congressional discussion about chemical facility security legislation that a comprehensive chemical security bill had even a hope of minimal (much less ‘wide spread’) bipartisan support.

If this wide spread bipartisan support also applies to the Senate, this may mean that the bill could be quickly picked up by the Senate and perhaps be voted upon before the summer recess. It may, in fact, explain why the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee stopped their announced introduction of a CFATS bill last month.

If this bill is adopted it will have one side effect that will adversely affect the chemical security program development. It will effectively kill the currently proposed Personnel Surety Program that is under review by the Office of Management and Budget. ISCD will have to start from scratch to craft a program that would meet the requirements of §2101(d)(3) of this bill. This means that it will be at least another year (probably 2) before there is a chance that there will be a method for screening employees at a high-risk chemical facility for known potential connections to terrorist organizations.

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