Tuesday, April 7, 2020

S 3506 Introduced – CFATS Extension

Last month Sen Lankford (R,OK) introduced S 3506, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Program Extension Act of 2020. This bill was intended to provide a short-term extension of the CFATS program through July 18th, 2020.

Moving Forward

While Lankford is a sub-committee chair in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the committee to which this bill was assigned for consideration, future consideration of this bill has been made problematic since another short-term extension was provided for the program in HR 748 (PL 116-136). That bill extended the program authorization through July 23rd, 2020.


This bill was introduced three days after the House passed HR 6160, a longer-term extension of the CFATS program. That bill would extend the authorization for the program through April 18th, 2020. The shorter extension in S 3506 would have given the Republican leadership another chance to get S 3416 through Committee and onto the floor of the Senate. Unfortunately, I think the COVID-19 problems are going to effectively block any controversial bills from consideration in the Senate for the remainder of the session.

The only CFATS bill that appears to have any chance of making it to the President is HR 6160. This kicks the can to the 117th Congress. That Congress (which could be dominated by the Democrats in both the House and Senate) will be focused on re-building the economy after the pandemic has run its course. I expect that the CFATS program is going to run on short term extensions for a while.

There is still a possible monkey wrench that could disable the program. While CFATS generally has wide spread support in Congress, the President’s 2021 budget request proposed shutting down the program and moving the chemical security inspectors into protective security advisor slots. If Trump is serious about closing the CFATS program, then a veto of HR 6160 would certainly be an easy way to do that. I suspect that partisanship in the Senate would overcome CFATS support in preventing an override of that veto.

Rep Thompson (D,MS), Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, is well aware of the President’s stated opposition to the CFATS program (any regulatory program for that matter) so we may see another short-term reauthorization in the inevitable next COVID-19 relief bill. That extension would probably carry through October 1st so that repeated CFATS extensions could go back into the DHS spending bill or continuing resolutions where they resided for so many years.

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