The countdown clock has begun for the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program, as it will sunset on January 18, 2019—unless Congress acts first to reauthorize it. Unfortunately, with Congress set to adjourn in a matter of weeks and a limited number of days remaining on the legislative calendar, manufacturers are becoming increasingly concerned that CFATS will lapse and our nation’s security will be at risk. This is an issue of critical importance to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM): our members operate 2,152 CFATS-regulated facilities spanning a range of major industrial sectors—such as oil and gas refining; chemical production and distribution; mining; agricultural goods and services; and electrical utilities—and they are counting on Congress to act expeditiously and reauthorize this program without delay.
Operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the CFATS program relies on a multitiered risk assessment process to identify and regulate high-risk facilities. DHS ensures that CFATS-regulated sites have appropriate security measures in place to mitigate, prevent and protect against terrorist exploitation. Since its inception in 2007, CFATS was tied to short-term appropriations measures, which prevented Congress from making statutory improvements to the program. However, the four-year congressional authorization of CFATS in 2014 was a pivotal moment for the program’s longevity. Manufacturers were provided with the regulatory certainty needed to make long-term security investments, and it enabled DHS to run the program more effectively. Now is the time to pass a full reauthorization once more for this vital program—and there are multiple different proposals already introduced in both chambers of Congress to do so:
- Senate: Ron Johnson (R-WI) is committed to moving the Protecting and Securing Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attacks Act of 2018 (S. 3405) forward by regular order and is engaged in negotiations with his colleagues. The bill reflects the NAM’s top three reauthorization priorities that we asked for during the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) roundtable in June. The legislation would reauthorize the CFATS program for five years, provide needed certainty to the regulated community and enhance the security of our nation. The Senate HSGAC favorably approved S. 3405 on September 26.
- House: The House also has two CFATS reauthorization bills in play. On September 28, Reps. John Katko (R-NY), John Moolenaar (R-MI) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX) introduced a bipartisan bill similar to S. 3405. The NAM joined with the CFATS Coalition and sent letters to Sen. Johnson and Reps. Katko, Moolenaar and Cuellar for their leadership on this important issue. In addition, on November 29, House Homeland Security Committee leadership and Energy and Commerce Committee leadership introduced legislation that would reauthorize CFATS for two years.
Securing the homeland requires strong partnerships among government at all levels, the private sector and concerned citizens across the country. Action to support these partnerships is needed now. CFATS reauthorization is and should continue to be a bipartisan issue that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle work on together to achieve. Security will remain a top priority for manufacturers, and they are dedicated to protecting their facilities and the communities in which they live and serve. Manufacturers call on Congress to reauthorize the CFATS program without delay for the sake of our nation’s national security.