Thursday, June 17, 2010

Senate Homeland Security Committee Business Meeting 06-24-10

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Operations hearing schedule web page today shows that they have scheduled a Business Meeting for June 24th. Business meetings are typically where legislation mark-ups are held and nominations are voted upon. No details are yet listed for the topics to be covered in this scheduled hearing. In light of Sen. Collins’ (R, ME) reported remarks about a mark-up of CFATS legislation possibly being conducted next week, this would be the reasonable venue for that to take place. That would presume that Sen. Collins and Chairman Lieberman (I, CT) had come to some sort of accommodation on their differing views on IST provisions in such legislation. A full blown mark-up hearing like we saw in the House Homeland Security Committee mark-up hearing last year is just not going to happen in this Committee. For one reason, the TSA nomination will probably be considered and possibly even a mark-up of S 3480 the newly introduced cyber security bill. The only possible way that I see this happening (and I have a very cloudy crystal ball) is for the Collins’ bill (S 2996) to be modified to a one or two year extension of CFATS (instead of the five year extension in the current version) along with the addition of a ‘assess and report’ IST provision similar to what DHS has been working on. This would allow DHS to collect hard data on the types of assessments that would be done and have hard data for evaluation of how DHS could determine what IST measures would be mandated for a facility. It would also allow for some time for the Chemical Safety Board to have their IST study completed. That sort of compromise might get Lieberman and Collins on board. That would be sufficient to get it through a favorable Committee vote. I don’t think this compromise would get the bill to the floor of the Senate as Sen. Reid (D, NV) has already taken enough flack from the House Democrats for watering down legislation. Since this bill is not high on the Obama agenda there would be little to force this bill to the floor in an election year shortened session. And it would never survive a House vote.

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