Monday, April 19, 2010

HR 4842 Markup

Last week the Homeland Security Committee completed their full committee markup of HR 4842, the Homeland Security Science and Technology Authorization Act of 2010. A number of amendments, including Chairman Thompson’s Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute, were introduced and agreed to. At the end of the hearing the bill as amended was ordered reported favorably by a unanimous recorded vote. As I noted in another blog, the earlier version of this bill provided a number of areas that could affect members of the chemical security community. Because of the way this markup was conducted (on an unpublished revision of the bill), and the slim documentation of the amendment process published on the Committee web site it is impossible to tell how those affects may have been changed in the amended legislation until the Committee Report is finally published. The absolute earliest that this could be done will be tomorrow, but it could take weeks or months, depending on how serious the Chairman is in getting this bill to the floor. While this authorization is apparently a serious matter for the Chairman, this bill need never come to a floor vote as a separate bill; it could simply be added to the DHS budget bill as it wends its way through the legislative process. That would not be an unusual way of handling this type of legislation. I would like to suggest to Chairman Thompson that his Committee’s web site could be significantly improved if these markup hearings were documented in a more thorough manner. A good example of a transparent markup process can be found on the Energy and Commerce Committee web site for a markup hearing they conducted on the same day. Chairman Waxman’s Committee does a very professional job of documenting their markup process and is well worth emulating.

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