Congress sends bill renewing anti-terrorism program to Trump


Congress sent legislation to President Trump 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.

{mosads}The House had initially passed a bill earlier this month reauthorizing the standards for two years. But Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (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 Peters (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 Nielsen, 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.”

Tags CFATS chemical plants Department of Homeland Security Donald Trump Gary Peters Kirstjen Nielsen Ron Johnson

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