Congress sends bill renewing anti-terrorism program to Trump

Congress sends bill renewing anti-terrorism program to Trump
© Getty

Congress sent legislation to President TrumpDonald John TrumpAverage tax refunds down double-digits, IRS data shows White House warns Maduro as Venezuela orders partial closure of border with Colombia Trump administration directs 1,000 more troops to Mexican border MORE on Thursday that would reauthorize a program setting standards on protecting manufacturers and other chemical facilities from terror attacks.

The program is set to sunset on Thursday, meaning Trump will have to sign it into law quickly in order to prevent it from lapsing.

The Senate approved an amended version of the bill to reauthorize the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program for 15 months on Wednesday evening, and the House passed it by voice vote Thursday.

ADVERTISEMENT

The House had initially passed a bill earlier this month reauthorizing the standards for two years. But Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonWhite House, GOP defend Trump emergency declaration GOP senator says Republicans didn't control Senate when they held majority GOP senator voices concern about Trump order, hasn't decided whether he'll back it MORE (R-Wis.) had rejected that version of the bill, saying that he would only accept a short-term extension. Johnson sought broader reforms to the program.

On Wednesday, he agreed to a 15-month reauthorization of the program, after negotiations with the committee’s ranking member Sen. Gary PetersGary Charles PetersDems seeking path to Senate majority zero-in on Sun Belt Lawmakers push to award Aretha Franklin the Congressional Gold Medal Congress sends bill renewing anti-terrorism program to Trump MORE (D-Mich.).

Johnson has authored legislation that would make changes to the Department of Homeland Security program, which applies to facilities that handle certain chemicals.

Industry groups, as well as Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenImmigrant advocacy groups seek restraining order to block Trump asylum policy The Hill's Morning Report - Trump faces mounting challenges to emergency declaration 2,000 asylum seekers return home, decide to stay in Mexico: report MORE, had advocated for a clean renewal of the program without any reforms as it approached its authorization deadline, to stop it from lapsing.

Several of those groups issued statements Thursday applauding the bill’s passage and urging Trump to quickly sign the measure.

“The continuity of this program without interruption is critical for industry and national security because it ensures manufacturers can confidently make appropriate, economically justifiable, long-term investments to protect high-risk facilities,” Laura Berkey-Ames, the director of energy and resources policy for the National Association of Manufacturers, said in a statement.

American Chemistry Council President and CEO Cal Dooley said the bill “will give Congress time to work on bolstering CFATS and provide the regulatory certainty needed to support the industry’s ongoing efforts to safeguard chemical facilities and communities.”

And Eric Byer, the president of the National Association of Chemical Distributors, said that continuing CFATS “ensures the chemical industry and regulators work together to keep our nation’s chemical facilities secured against potential terrorist attacks.”