Sunday, November 13, 2011

Congressional Hearings – Week of 11-14-11

Both the House and Senate will be in Washington this week, but the FY 2012 spending issue will be the big news this week, not Congressional hearings (remember the current ‘continuing resolution’ expires on the 18th). There will be two House hearings this week of potential interest to the chemical and cyber security communities, plus the House will finish work on HR 2838, the Coast Guard authorization bill.

Cyber Security

The Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security of the House Judiciary Committee will be holding a hearing on Thursday about cyber security. Politically this is an impressive array of witnesses, including Michael Chertoff, but there is no one with specific control system expertise. Who knows, though, industrial control system security might be mentioned in passing; some Representative might even ask an ICS related question. Stranger things have happened.

Subcommittee Mark-up

The Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence of the House Homeland Security Committee will also meet on Thursday to mark-up two bills; HR 2764, the WMD Intelligence and Information Sharing Act of 2011, and HR 3140, the Mass Transit Intelligence Prioritization Act. The second is an issue to the chemical security community only in that it reduces the number of DHS intelligence folks that might be looking at chemical intelligence issues. Without adding analysts this is a zero sum game that reduces the security of everyone else.

As I mentioned in my original posting on HR 2764 this is yet another bio-terrorism bill. Okay, I do have to admit it has some generic chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear language in it, but the main focus is on bio-weapons.

If anyone on the HS Committee Staff is reading, I’ll repeat my plug in that blog for an addition to this bill:

“What is lacking in the CFATS program (okay one of the things that is lacking) is an intelligence collection, analysis and dissemination capability to identify potential threats. This bill would be an excellent place to require OIA to establish a national chemical fusion center that would bring together government and private sector chemical intelligence collection and analysis capabilities. This could be coordinated with the Office of Infrastructure Protection to include communications to and from high-risk chemical facilities; the most likely sources of material for a truly large scale CBRN attack.”

Coast Guard Authorization

According to the Majority Leader’s web page the House will resume consideration of HR 2838 on Tuesday. Remember this is a restricted rule and only two pre-approved amendments are left to consider. The House version of this bill does have a ‘Homeland Security’ provision (okay, this is a real stretch); § does make GPS interference a felony if it affects maritime safety. As I asked in initial post on this bill; would that cover effecting ICS at an MTSA covered portside facility? It is just too vague to tell.

FY 2012 Spending

The Senate is due to start taking up HR 2354 on Monday afternoon. This bill would make appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies for FY 2012. While the amendment filing process has begun on this bill, I have yet to see the standard ‘amendment in the form of a substitute’ from the Senate Appropriations Committee. This may be because this bill may become the ‘vehicle’ for another short term extension of current spending authority. Various press sources have mentioned ‘Christmas’ (probably December 18th) as the expiration of that ‘continuing resolution’. Or, the House could end up drafting a new CR out of whole cloth.

1 comment:

John C. W. Bennett said...


Re your suggestion for amending HR 2764, wasn't there once a chemical sector Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC), in essence a public-private partnership, that eventually disbanded? I get the sense, but have no first-hand knowledge, that the industry didn't think it was worthwhile.

Still standing are 16 ISACs from various sectors including Highway, Information Technology, Maritime, Supply Chain, and Surface Transportation.

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