Saturday, November 14, 2009

Congressional Hearings Week of 11-16-09

Congress is back from their short Veterans Day recesses and looking forward to next weeks Thanksgiving Recess. In this work week between there are three hearings currently scheduled that might be of interest to the chemical security community, all in the House. Intelligence Update The Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment of the Homeland Security Committee will be looking at al Qaeda (al-Qa’ida?; transliteration is always a problem from non-roman script languages) and how it is evolving. The hearing is on Thursday at 10:00 am EST. A partial witness list on the Homeland Security web site shows all witnesses coming from non-governmental organizations, so at least that panel will be unclassified. If they add a panel of government witnesses the discussion may go closed and classified. I doubt that there will be any specific mention of threats against chemical facilities, but any unclassified terrorist intelligence updates should be followed by anyone in the chemical security community. Cyber Security The House Science and Technology Committee continues to look at cyber security and to ignore control systems. The full committee will be conducting a mark-up of HR 4061, the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2009, on Wednesday at 10:00 am EST. A quick scan of the bill shows no specific reference to industrial control systems or SCADA, but the bill does allocate funds for cyber security research so it is important. Fire Grants The Rules Committee has announced that they are accepting amendments to HR 3791, Fire Grants Reauthorization Act of 2009, until 10:00 am on Tuesday. That means that there will probably be a hearing on the bill on Tuesday afternoon or more likely Wednesday. Again, no specific mention of grants for response activities at high-risk facilities, but these grants will be available to many departments that would be responding to chemical incidents.

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