The House of Representatives has passed a bill to extend anti-terrorism protections for chemical plants through 2017. The bill’s lead sponsors included two Houston congressmen – Republican Rep. Michael McCaul and Democratic Rep. Gene Green.
The rules governing security for high-risk chemical facilities have been in place since 2007. But under current legislation, they must be renewed annually, along with appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security. That’s led to some problems.
“Last year, because of the budget problems, when we shut down the government for thirteen days, this law was not into effect,” says Rep. Green. “We want to give it its own freestanding law, so there can be some certainty.”
Green says the bill has particular resonance for Houston. “In our district, we have a lot of these chemical facilities, and there’s been a significant amount of both federal tax dollars and industry dollars put into securing those facilities.”
The window for the Senate to act on the bill is narrow. Only a few days remain before Congress goes into its August recess. Campaigning for the mid-term elections will take up much of the remaining time in the session.