Thursday, June 1, 2023

Is CFATS Going to Die?

On July 27th, 2023 (less than two months away) the authority for the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards will terminate (see Notes, 6 USC 622). On that date, the industry supported chemical security program that has been around since 2007 will cease to operate unless Congress takes action to extend the program. To date, the 118th Congress has not held a single hearing about the CFATS program. Not a single bill has been introduced to extend the program.

This is not an unusual situation for the program. Those of us who have been following the program since its inception will remember the annual extension of the program that was a routine occurrence through 2014. It was not a real big deal, because just a single paragraph was needed in the DHS spending bill to continue the program for another year while the House leadership tried to figure out how to get the two conflicting committees (Homeland Security and Energy and Commerce Committees) to craft a bill acceptable to both. When Congress had to evoke continuing resolutions to get a spending bill passed, a paragraph was included that extended the program.

This happened because the initial authorization for the program was included in the 2007 DHS spending bill. But when Congress finally passed a standalone CFATS authorization bill, that all changed. The termination date was set on a date that was not tied to the spending bill, so even if Congress added a one-year extension to this year’s spending bill, it would come too late to save the program.

While I would prefer to see a comprehensive, long-term CFATS authorization bill, there is no way that that is going to occur in the less than 2 months left before the program terminates. So we need a short term extension of the program. But, since the program is no longer a hot legislative topic, I suggest that we tie the termination date to the end of the fiscal year, so that it can again be extended by a single paragraph in the DHS spending bill. With that in mind I would like to suggest a two-section extension bill.

Section 1. Short Title.

This act may be known as the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) Extension Act of 2002.

Section 2. Section 2102 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 is amended by adding at the end:

“(e) The authority provided under title XXI of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 [6 U.S.C. 621 et seq.], shall terminate on 1 October 2024.”

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