CFATS Legislation to Move to Full House

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.

We still don't have all of the information on the markup and vote, but here is what we know from articles in Congressional Quarterly Today and Chemical Facility Security News:

• 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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