Industry Urging House to Approve Chemical Security Bill on Tuesday

Search and rescue workers comb through what remains of a 50-unit apartment building (foreground) the day after an explosion at the West Fertilizer Company (background) destroyed the building on April 18, 2013, in West, Texas. The incident, which left damaged buildings for blocks in every direction, has been cited often in the debate over legislation that would extend the life of a controversial Homeland Security Program.
National Journal
Douglas P. Guarino
July 8, 2014, 10:36 a.m.

In­dustry of­fi­cials are ur­ging law­makers to ap­prove a bill that would ex­tend the life of a con­tro­ver­sial chem­ic­al se­cur­ity pro­gram dur­ing a vote on the House floor Tues­day af­ter­noon.

The bill, H.R. 4007, would provide a mul­ti­year au­thor­iz­a­tion to the Chem­ic­al Fa­cil­ity Anti-Ter­ror­ism Stand­ards of the Home­land Se­cur­ity De­part­ment. The pro­gram is meant to help en­sure that do­mest­ic in­dus­tri­al fa­cil­it­ies us­ing haz­ard­ous chem­ic­als do not fall vic­tim to ter­ror­ist at­tacks that could be cata­stroph­ic for sur­round­ing com­munit­ies.

Thus far, the pro­gram has been re­newed an­nu­ally through the con­gres­sion­al ap­pro­pri­ations pro­cess — a prac­tice that both DHS and in­dustry of­fi­cials com­plain has led to harm­ful un­cer­tainty from year to year.

“A long term au­thor­iz­a­tion out­side of the ap­pro­pri­ations pro­cess will provide the reg­u­lat­ory con­sist­ency and op­er­a­tion­al sta­bil­ity to en­sure the suc­cess of CFATS, while giv­ing in­dustry con­fid­ence in their long term cap­it­al com­mit­ments to this pro­gram,” Cal Dooley, pres­id­ent of the Amer­ic­an Chem­istry Coun­cil, wrote in a let­ter to House lead­ers today.

“En­sur­ing the fu­ture of this im­port­ant pro­gram will also help DHS re­cruit and re­tain top tal­ent to ef­fect­ively im­ple­ment CFATS,” Dooley’s let­ter, ad­dressed to House Speak­er John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal­if.), states.

The House bill lacks pro­vi­sions that would give DHS of­fi­cials the au­thor­ity to re­quire spe­cif­ic se­cur­ity up­grades at chem­ic­al fa­cil­it­ies. Labor uni­on of­fi­cials, en­vir­on­ment­al­ists and some Demo­crats fa­vor such “in­her­ently safer tech­no­logy” re­quire­ments, but Re­pub­lic­ans and in­dustry of­fi­cials op­pose them.

The le­gis­la­tion also would not end a reg­u­lat­ory ex­emp­tion for wa­ter treat­ment fa­cil­it­ies that some Demo­crats and act­iv­ist groups have cri­ti­cized. The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion re­leased an in­ter­agency re­port last month ur­ging Con­gress to end the ex­emp­tion.

The House bill so far lacks a Sen­ate com­pan­ion, but Sen­at­ors Tom Carp­er (D-Del.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) are work­ing on draft le­gis­la­tion. Carp­er chairs the Sen­ate Home­land Se­cur­ity Com­mit­tee and Coburn is the pan­el’s top Re­pub­lic­an.

What We're Following See More »
STAFF PICKS
After Wikileaks Hack, DNC Staffers Stared Using ‘Snowden-Approved’ App
29 minutes ago
WHY WE CARE

The Signal app is fast becoming the new favorite among those who are obsessed with the security and untraceabilty of their messaging. Just ask the Democratic National Committee. Or Edward Snowden. As Vanity Fair reports, before news ever broke that the DNC's servers had been hacked, word went out among the organization that the word "Trump" should never be used in their emails, lest it attract hackers' attention. Not long after, all Trump-related messages, especially disparaging ones, would need to be encrypted via the Snowden-approved Signal.

Source:
WARRING FACTIONS?
Freedom Caucus Members May Bolt the RSC
2 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

The Republican Study Committee may lose several members of the House Freedom Caucus next year, "potentially creating a split between two influential groups of House conservatives." The Freedom Caucus was founded at the inception of the current Congress by members who felt that the conservative RSC had gotten too cozy with leadership, "and its roughly 40 members have long clashed with the RSC over what tactics to use when pushing for conservative legislation." As many as 20 members may not join the RSC for the new Congress next year.

Source:
SOME THERAPIES ALREADY IN TRIALS
FDA Approves Emergency Zika Test
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday issued emergency authorization for a Zika diagnostics test from Swiss drugmaker Roche, skirting normal approval channels as the regulator moves to fight the disease's spread." Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that a new study in Nature identifies "about a dozen substances" that could "suppress the pathogen's replication." Some of them are already in clinical trials.

Source:
MONEY HAS BEEN PAID BACK
Medicare Advantage Plans Overcharged Government
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

According to 37 newly released audits, "some private Medicare plans overcharged the government for the majority of elderly patients they treated." A number of Medicare Advantage plans overstated "the severity of medical conditions like diabetes and depression." The money has since been paid back, though some plans are appealing the federal audits.

Source:
DESPITE CONSERVATIVE OBJECTIONS
Omnibus Spending Bill Likely Getting a Lame-Duck Vote
5 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

"GOP leaders and House Democrats are already laying the groundwork for a short-term continuing resolution" on the budget this fall "that will set up a vote on a catch-all spending bill right before the holidays." As usual, however, the House Freedom Caucus may throw a wrench in Speaker Paul Ryan's gears. The conservative bloc doesn't appear willing to accept any CR that doesn't fund the government into 2017.

Source:
×