Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Possible CFATS Mark-up Hearing

Today the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs web site added a listing for a Committee Business Meeting to their hearing schedule web page. That meeting is scheduled to convene on July 28th at 10:00 am. There is no agenda currently available for that meeting. With all of the recent speculation that the Committee would mark-up HR 2868, S 2996 or even S 3599 this month, it is possible that this meeting could address one or more of the three bills, though I would normally expect the Committee to only favorably report one of these three bills. Because of the close working relationship between Chairman Lieberman (I, CT) and Ranking Member Collins (R, ME), and their polar opposite approaches to IST mandates, I don’t really expect any of the current bills to be reported without significant modifications. Everyone also seems to forget that the putative reason that the Committee decided to take no action at their previous CFATS meeting was because the ISCD folks at DHS were in the process of drawing up their own version of a potentially comprehensive CFATS reauthorization bill. We could possibly see an approach that Lieberman and Collins could both support come out of DHS, since the professionals at ISCD don’t have a particular ax to grind in this fight. If that were to happen, I would expect to see that offered as an amendment in the nature of a substitute for one of the three bills. One could argue that the Collins’ bill would be the likely vessel for that substitute. If the bill were close enough in language and construction to HR 2868, amending that bill might make more legislative sense as it would take fewer votes (times voting not number of votes) to get it through Congress. Fewer scheduled votes means a better chance of passage in an election shortened session. I still don’t see a comprehensive CFATS bill happening this year, but really well crafted DHS language might offer enough for Democrats to support and Republicans to not actively oppose. Stranger things have happened, but don’t hold your breath, not in an election year.

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