Sunday, July 7, 2013

Congressional Hearings – Week of 07-07-13

Congress will be back in town this week from their long Fourth of July weekend and there is just about a month remaining before their summer break. Historically budget and spending considerations will control the news and this week we will see at least one spending bill in Committee that might be of interest. We also have a cyber-espionage hearing, two looks at recent terrorist attacks and a TSCA hearing.


The House Appropriations Committee will mark up the FY 2014 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill on Wednesday. I haven’t paid a lot of attention to this bill in the past, but cybersecurity is likely to get significant mention, so I’ll keep an eye on this.

HR 2609, the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2014 will come to the House floor this week under a rule to be adopted Monday afternoon by the House Rules Committee. Nothing of particular interest here; what is interesting is that HR 2410, the Ag spending bill is not scheduled to come to the floor this week even though a rule was written before the recess. The Republican leadership is still apparently trying to work out a deal on the authorization bill and will apparently hold this bill until that problem is disposed of.


The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce will hold a hearing on Tuesday looking at “Cyber Espionage and the Theft of U.S. Intellectual Property and Technology”. I am a little concerned that the hearing is focusing solely on the intellectual property angle (very important, I know), but appears to be ignoring the problem of espionage looking for access to control systems a potentially much larger and more dangerous problem. Well, maybe that will be addressed in a subsequent hearing.

Terrorist Attack Reviews

The House Committee on Homeland Security will be holding a hearing on Wednesday looking at "Assessing Attacks on the Homeland: From Fort Hood to Boston.” Nothing specifically related to cybersecurity or chemical security is expected. The witness list is not currently available.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will be holding a hearing on Wednesday looking at “Lessons Learned from the Boston Marathon Bombings: Preparing for and Responding to the Attack”. Again I don’t expect anything specifically concerning cybersecurity or chemical security to be discussed. The witness list includes:

• Richard Serino, Federal Emergency Management Agency;
• Kurt N. Schwartz, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
• Edward F. Davis III, the City of Boston; and
• Arthur L. Kellermann, M.D., the RAND Corporation

Learning from successful terrorist attacks is very important. Even though these attacks did not include specific cybersecurity or chemical security components, the lessons learned will still have important applications to those security areas.


The Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce will hold a hearing on Thursday looking at “Regulation of New Chemicals, Protection of Confidential Business Information, and Innovation”. No witness list is currently available.

Possible Hearings to Come

I have been hearing some comments, public and private, about some interesting hearings that are planned for later this month. It looks like there will be a House hearing on the West Fertilizer explosion which I suspect will include some pointed questions about the Ammonium Nitrate Security Program. I am expecting at least one House hearing on the status of the CFATS program with a special emphasis on the Personnel Surety Program.

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