Bennie Thompson Blasts Shutdown of DHS Chemical Program

The Homeland Security Department’s chemical-security program ceased most operations this week as a result of the federal shutdown, prompting concerns about how the government will improve security in the wake of this year’s fatal explosion in Texas.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said in a statement to Global Security Newswire Friday that the incident at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, “brought into focus the need to secure dangerous chemicals against accidental or malicious release or detonation.” He noted that President Obama in August issued an executive order calling on the DHS Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism program — along with the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal entities — to do more work on the issue.

“It is unconscionable that today, as a result of Republican gamesmanship, CFATS as a program is effectively dead — it has no funding or authorization,” said Thompson, the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee. “The speaker needs to stand up for what is right and let the House vote on a clean [continuing resolution] that funds the entire government and renews authorization for CFATS.”