Friday, March 27, 2020

COVID-19 CFATS Extension

I reported earlier today that the Senate had left town without acting on an extension of the authority for the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program which runs out on April 18th. It turns out that I was mistaken. Thanks to a TWEET® from Douglas A. Leigh III, Director of Legislative Affairs National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD), I went back and re-searched SA 1578, which became HR 748, Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Sure enough, he was correct; buried well down within Division B, Emergency Appropriations for Coronavirus Health Response and Agency Operations, §16007 (pg S 2136) provides a short-term extension for the CFATS program. That section states:

“Section 5 of the Protecting and Securing Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attacks Act of 2014 (Public Law 113–254; 6 U.S.C. 621 note) is amended by striking ‘‘the date that is 5 years and 3 months after the effective date of this Act’’ and inserting ‘‘July 23, 2020’’: Provided, That the amount provided by this section is designated by the Congress as being for an emergency requirement pursuant to section 251(b)(2)(A)(i) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985.”

That last “Provided” clause in the section is a technical necessity that really has nothing to do with the actual CFATS extension.

I must admit that it is nice seeing a date-certain for the termination of CFATS authority rather than the previous ‘the date that is 5 years and 3 months after the effective date of this Act’.

The House concurred with the Senate amendment to HR 748, this afternoon. The press reports that the President signed it this evening.

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