Senate Democrats Block Johnson Effort to Renew Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Program

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, asked for unanimous consent on the Senate floor today to pass legislation reauthorizing the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) objected to Sen. Johnson’s request. CFATS, which currently regulates more than 3,000 high-risk chemical facilities, is set to expire in January 2019 if not reauthorized before then.

An excerpt from Sen. Johnson’s speech this afternoon is below, and a video can be found here.

“My committee did the work, we did act. Now I’m being threatened with a false choice: either reauthorize the program as is, without much needed reforms, or let it die. In fact, there is a much better third choice. Pass S. 3405, the bill our committee passed unanimously – the bill that provides unanimous reforms that strike the right balance between security and efficiency.”

Under Chairman Johnson’s leadership, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has taken action to reauthorize and reform the CFATS program:

115th Congress: The Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held numerous briefings with chemical facility owners, trade groups, DHS, and other relevant federal agencies.

March 13, 2017: Chairman Johnson led the request for the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a review of the CFATS program along with Sen. McCaskill and the House Homeland Security Committee.

April 4, 2018: Chairman Johnson wrote a letter to DHS requesting additional information on the CFATS program, including the status of multiple overdue reports to Congress.

June 12, 2018: The Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held a CFATS roundtable with DHS, the GAO, a CFATS chemical inspector, and companies and industry groups.

Sept. 4, 2018: Chairman Johnson introduced S. 3405, the Protecting and Securing Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attacks Act of 2018.

Sept. 26, 2018: S. 3405 was unanimously reported out of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs by voice vote.

Sept. 28, 2018: Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), Rep. John Moolenaar (R-Mich.), and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) introduced H.R. 6992, a bipartisan House companion.

Oct. 10, 2018: Sen. Capito joined as a cosponsor to S. 3405.

Oct. 23, 2018: Sens. Johnson and Capito send letter to the leadership of the House Committee on Homeland Security and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce urging them to pass CFATS reforms.

Nov. 13, 2018: Sen. Daines joined as a cosponsor to S. 3405.