Earlier this month during the din of the health care debate, the House quietly passed a bill that, if enacted into law, will help secure our country from terrorist attacks on chemical plants and waste and drinking water treatment plants. The bill, H.R. 2868, is called "The Chemical and Water Security Act of 2009."
On Nov. 6, it passed on a vote of 230 to 193.
Can you guess how many Republicans voted FOR it?
Can you say ZERO?
I knew you could.
Why did they vote against this vital piece of legislation? Well, it's easy to predict: it would cost the affected industries some money. The GOP clamor to protect us against terrorists and speechify endlessly about the threat of global terrorism so that we're all SCARED!!!. But when it comes to actually taking measures to do that, well, don't ask Big Business to spend their money on it.
As usual with the GOP, it's profits before people.
1. Reduce the consequences of an attack through the use of available, cost-effective safer and more secure chemicals and processes.
2. Include all categories of facilities such as water treatment plants.
3. Involve plant employees in developing plant security programs, including participation in workplace investigations, and protect employees from excessive background checks.
4. Allow citizen petitions to enhance enforcement at chemical facilities and citizen suits to ensure government accountable.
5. Allow states to set more protective security standards.
(You can read a summary of the bill HERE.)
The US Chamber of Commerce was against it.
The National Paint and Coatings Association was against it.
Grover Norquist got in on the act.
And not a single Republican voted for it.
Their main complaint was that it would cost industry money. In a letter to Henry Waxman [pdf], the Chamber of Commerce cited three points:
1. It lets state and local agencies set more stringent rules than the federal government.
2. It allows for "citizens' suits" against companies that don't protect their local communities appropriately.
3. It requires facilities to investigate "inherently safer technologies" or ISTs
The GOP and the Chamber are famous for touting "states' rights" but they don't want state and local groups to be able to make these particular decisions for themselves. They also want to prevent citizens from making waves. And God forbid companies have to spend extra cash making their facilities safer if it affects their profit margins!
The Republicans even fought an amendment that would "requires assessments and implementation of methods to reduce the consequences of a terrorist attack."
You can see how your Representative voted HERE.
The bill has now been sent to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. The members of that Committee are:
Joseph I. Lieberman, Chairman (ID-CT)
Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI)
Carl Levin (D-MI)
Thomas R. Carper (D-DE)
Mark L. Pryor (D-AR)
Mary L. Landrieu (D-LA)
Jon Tester (D-MT)
Roland Burris (D-IL)
Paul G. Kirk, Jr. (D-MA)
Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
Susan M. Collins, Ranking Member (R-ME)
Tom Coburn (R-OK)
John McCain (R-AZ)
George V. Voinovich (R-OH)
John Ensign (R-NV)
Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Robert F. Bennett (R-UT)