CFATS Reauthorization Sits on Back Burner as Pandemic Takes Congress’ Focus
As with most legislation, the coronavirus pandemic has drastically slowed progress on reauthorization of the CFATS anti-terrorism program. However, unlike most federal programs, CFATS is currently set to sunset in July 2020.
In January, the House passed an 18-month reauthorization that would simply extend the program without change to October 2021. The Senate did not take up that bill, but it did extend the program in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act by three months until July 23.
Currently, staff for Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs Committee is meeting with the offices of Chairman Ron Johnson and Ranking Minority Member Senator Gary Peters to continue negotiations on a bipartisan compromise bill that would both reform and extend the program for five to seven years. With staff scattered by the closure of Congressional offices and the focus on coronavirus relief efforts, progress has been slow.
So far both attempts to add the House’s 18-month extension to the last two pandemic relief bills were thwarted. Given the lack of time to move legislation before the July deadline, the most likely outcome is either another 18-month extension or a series of three-month extensions to the end of this Congress and perhaps into next year.