Sunday, June 5, 2011

Congressional Hearings – Week of 6-6-11

Well last week the Senate was out-of-town; this week it will be the House that will be back home talking with constituents. There will only be two hearings of possible (and I’m really stretching it this week) interest to the chemical or cyber security communities. One will deal with the Surface Transportation Board and the other with emergency response.

STB Authorization

On Wednesday the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will be holding a Full Committee mark-up of a number of bill including S. 158, Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act of 2011. Most of this bill is rather arcane railroad related stuff but there is a study requirement about interchange rules that I mentioned in my blog about the introduction of this bill. As I concluded in that blog, it will be interesting to see if this provision is changed in the legislative process to clearly include a requirement to analyze the affect of these interchange rules on the route selection process for security sensitive materials.

Of course, given the way this Committee operates it will be months before we see anything about changes made to the bills during this markup. We won’t have any idea what changes are made until the Committee finally prints their report on the bill.

Emergency Management

The Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Homeland Security will hold a hearing on Wednesday looking at “the status of emergency management in the U.S., including the important role communications systems play during a disaster”. I’m assuming that this is designed to inform the Subcommittees funding of interoperable communications in the Senate’s version of the DHS FY 2012 appropriations bill.

It would be interesting to see if anyone asks the two government witnesses about planning for emergency response at large high-risk chemical facilities, but I won’t hold my breath. This is another issue that everyone is happy to ignore until it comes time for finger pointing.

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