Sunday, February 12, 2012

Congressional Hearings – Week of 2-13-12

This week starts to heat up the happenings on Capitol Hill. President Obama will finally publish his FY 2013 Budget Request Monday, and a long parade of political appointees will start to appear in congressional hearing rooms; Secretary Napolitano starts the DHS parade with two appearances this week. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will finally debut their new cybersecurity legislation. Finally the House Homeland Security Committee will markup a WMD bill.

FY 2013 Budget

Secretary Napolitano will make two trips to the House committee rooms on Wednesday to explain the President’s request for spending in FY 2013. In the morning she will start with the hearing before the Homeland Security Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. In the afternoon she will repeat her statement at the House Homeland Security Committee.

There will be a lot of questions about pet projects from committee members, but nothing of substance will be agreed to in this round of discussions. CFATS might come up, but it will be a high level discussion, again no details. The most interesting thing for CFATS will be to see if the Administration again requests a two year extension of the program’s authorization.

Cyber Security

The Senate Homeland Security Committee Staff has been working hard with other committee staffs to develop a comprehensive cybersecurity bill that address the major concerns of all of the cyber players in the Senate. It will be introduced this week and Chairman Lieberman’s Committee will hold the first hearing on the bill on Thursday. There is little likelihood that control systems will receive any major attention in the bill, but we can always hope.

WMD Markup

The full House Homeland Security Committee will meet Wednesday morning to markup four separate bills, a sure sign that Chairman King doesn’t expect much in the way of opposition to any of the bills. The last of the four to be listed for consideration (though that does not mean it will be the last to be taken up at the hearing) is HR 2356, the WMD Prevention and Preparedness Act of 2011. I discussed the provisions of this bill back in July when it was introduced and am quite surprised that it took this long for the Committee to take it up; its a favorite topic of Rep. King. Substitute language will be offered by Chairman King, but at first glance it doesn’t seem to change much about the areas I previously discussed. I’ll look at it more closely before the hearing.

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