Both the Senate and House will be back in session on Tuesday. There is a moderately heavy hearing schedule with four hearings this week that might be of specific interest to readers of this blog; DHS Secretary Confirmation, TRIA, Threat Review and TSCA.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on Wednesday for Jeh Johnson to be the new Secretary of DHS. Generally speaking this will be about generalities. I expect that we will hear mention of cybersecurity, but nothing earth shattering and chemical security may get passing mention. Any fireworks will come from discussion of Johnson’s time at DOD.
The Housing and Insurance Subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee (first mention of them here) will hold a hearing on Wednesday on The Future of Terrorism Insurance: Fostering Private Market Innovation to Limit Taxpayer Exposure. The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act is up for reauthorization (it expires next year) and there are three separate bills that would address that re-authorization (HR 508, HR 1945, and HR 2146). This would be the first hearing on the topic for this session of Congress.
The Committee hearing page has a good review of the history of TRIA though it is a little lite on how the program works.
BTW: There has been talk in the press about the use of TRIA to support the insurance industry coverage of a terrorist related cyber-attack. TRIA does not have anything to do about deciding if insurance would cover such an attack. It could however indemnify carriers for huge outlays for their coverage of an attack if the Secretary of the Treasury certified that the cyber-attack was a covered terrorist attack.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will be holding a hearing on Thursday on Threats to the Homeland. This is a pretty standard periodic review of the subject. Open hearings have little or no details about current threats but it does provide an overview of how the government currently views the general situation. The standard witness are:
• Rand Beers, Acting Secretary, DHS;
• James B. Comey, Jr., Director, FBI; and
• Matthew G. Olsen, Director, NCC
The Environment and the Economy Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee is holding an oddly out-of-sync hearing on Wednesday on S 1009, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act. This is the much heralded TSCA reform bill championed by the late Sen. Lautenberg (D,NJ) and Sen. Vitter (R,LA). The hearing is out of sync because the Senate has yet to act on this bill beyond holding a single hearing.
There is an informative background memo on the bill on the hearing web site.