The House Energy and Commerce Committee marked up and voted on H.R. 908, the Full Implementation of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) Act on Thursday, May 26, 2011. The legislation was passed (33-16) with bi-partisan support. The Democrats were led by Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) who had previously expressed some doubts about his continued support of the legislation.
• An amendment by Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill) to extend CFATS through 2018 was approved (27-21).
• Rep. Green offered an amendment to limit reauthorization to five years, but it was rejected (21-27).
• The committee did not approve two Democratic amendments that would have given DHS more authority to disapprove site plans that do not meet standards.
• An amendment by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) that would require DHS to approve or disapprove site plans within 18 months of submission was rejected by the committee.
• An IST amendment submitted by Rep. Waxman that would require facilities to use "safer" technologies was also not approved.
• Another interesting development was the introduction and approval of a background check amendment. It would mean that there would be no security background check required if someone holds a valid transportation security card (Transportation Workers Identification Credential or TWIC). This means that TWIC card holders would have access to restricted areas or critical assets at a facility.
Of course, now H.R. 908 has to be voted on by the full House and similar legislation has to be passed in the Senate. So, there is still a lot of work ahead for CFATS. It was nice to see some positive movement, but we are going to have to wait and see what happens - especially in the Senate. Also, remember there are still a few other CFATS reauthorization bills out there including H.R. 901 that would shift jurisdiction to the Homeland Security Committee. As you can see there is still a lot out there that can happen. I would be interested in hearing what you think about this legislative tangle. What do you think we will see on CFATS in the coming months?
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