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House passes chemical facility security bill, welcomes litigation

The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday voted 230-193 to pass H.R. 2868, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act. (Roll call vote.) All but 21 Democrats voted in favor; Republicans all opposed.

With the announcement yesterday of October's 10.2 percent unemployment, opponents stressed the bill's harm to jobs and the economy. (See Shopfloor.org posts here and here.)

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...

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Isaac Gorodetski
Project Manager,
Center for Legal Policy at the
Manhattan Institute

Katherine Lazarski
Press Officer,
Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.