Monday, December 1, 2014

Congressional Hearings – Week of 12-01-14

There are a number of hearings scheduled this week as the House and Senate come back to Washington for week 3 of the lame-duck session, but none of specific interest to readers of this blog. The House Majority Leader does expect to bring some bills of interest to the floor for votes this week. The currently listed bills will all be considered ‘under suspension of the rules’ which call for a super-majority vote, limited debate and no amendments. Typically these bills are expected to pass with at least some bipartisan support.


The House is expected to take up 10 bills today; three of them are of potential specific interest to my readers:

H.R. 3410 – Critical Infrastructure Protection Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks / Homeland Security Committee)
H.R. 5629 – Strengthening Domestic Nuclear Security Act of 2014, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Patrick Meehan / Homeland Security Committee)
H.R. 3438 – National Laboratories Mean National Security Act (Sponsored by Rep. Eric Swalwell / Homeland Security Committee)

I’ve only addressed one of these bills; HR 3410. This bill would require DHS to undertake emergency response planning for EMP events. No funding is provided in this bill, so any DHS efforts will be minimal at best. The bill will probably pass Monday, but it is an open question if it will ever see action in the Senate. If it does it will almost certainly be one of those bills that pass at the end of the day under unanimous consent.

Later in the Week

None of the eleven bills currently listed for Tuesday consideration are of specific interest here. The only other bill potentially of interest that might come to the floor this week is the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, this is one of those ‘must pass’ bills that will almost certainly be considered before the 113th Congress ends deliberations for the last time. Interestingly, the Majority Leader’s web site lists this bill by name rather than bill number (HR 4435) [NOTE: Because HR 4435 was passed in House earlier this year but not considered in the Senate; 12-02-14, 7:00 CST].

There was no mention of cybersecurity issues in the original bill or committee markup, but the House Armed Services Committee Report does add some reporting requirements on cyber range operations, Air Force cyber-operations compatibility with the Cyber Command, and the required information sharing program with the defense industrial base.

[Ignore discussion below, See Note above]

A rule for the consideration of HR 4435 had been adopted by the House Rules Committee back in May and the Whole House adopted that rule on May 21st. That provided a structured rule with a large number of specific amendments that could be brought to the floor. Amendments of specific interest to readers of this blog included:

• Amdt #39 – Adding authorization for National Guard Cyber Protection Teams similar in concept to the WMD response units currently deployed;
• Amdt #78 – Small business cyber education program to aid small DOD contractors to understand, prepare for and respond to cyber attacks;
• Amdt#142 – DNI certification of mission analysis of DOD cyber operations; and
• Amdt#146 – Sense of Congress statement about the use of National Guard in defending against cyber-attacks on the United States.

At this point it is not clear if the currently approved rule will be used for the floor consideration of HR 4435, or even if HR 4435 will be the actual bill used to pass the NDA this year. As more information becomes available I will share it.

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