But there was also an important, if brief, debate about the bill's introduction of "citizen lawsuits" against the Department of Homeland Security's oversight of chemical plants. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) submitted an amendment to strike the third-party lawsuits language. From McCaul's floor statement:
Allowing any third party--anybody-- to sue the Secretary is both reckless and unnecessary. This provision would be a boon to trial lawyers and to environmentalists at the expense of the Department of Homeland Security and national security interests. Citizen suits have no place in a national security context, and this would be the very first time that Congress would be authorizing such suits in the homeland security arena.
McCaul's amendment was defeated196-232 (roll call vote). More...
- Bloomberg, "House Passes Chemical Security Measure Over Industry Objections"
- NOLA.com (Times-Picayune), "Chemical security bill wins nod from House"
- Greenpeace.org, "Historic Chemical Security Compromise Approved by House"
- USPIRG, "U.S. House Passes Chemical Security Legislation"