Saturday, January 28, 2012

Congressional Hearings – Week of 01-30-12

Congress has a full week (for Congress 4 days is a full week) of work ahead of them including two hearings that will certainly be of interest to readers of this blog; ISCD Problems, and Cybersecurity Legislation.

ISCD Problems

The Environment and Economy Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will be holding hearings on the current problems at ISCD on Friday. Actually the title of the hearing is “Evaluating Internal Operation and Implementation of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards program (CFATS) by the Department of Homeland Security”; and I thought that I had a tendency to get wordy.

No witness list is currently available, but I would bet that it includes on the first panel Under Secretary Beers and Director Anderson. If that is the only panel of witnesses, the hearing will be a typical Congressional waste of time. If the second panel is industry reps, it will be almost as much of a waste of time. The only way that this hearing will be meaningful is if it includes sworn testimony from people within ISCD including the facility inspection force; I’m not holding my breath.

What is disappointing is that the first hearing on this topic is by a subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee. First we are certainly past the point where we should be wasting time with Subcommittee hearings since they will certainly have to be duplicated by the full committee before anything can be accomplished. Secondly it is a sign of the utterly stupid organization of oversight of DHS components in Congress that this hearing is not being held by the Homeland Security Committee. Of course Rep King (R,NY) and Thompson (D,MS) have been absolutely silent on the ISCD issue so maybe it is better that someone else does the hearings.

One last rant point here; if the hearing record does not include a public copy (redacted if absolutely necessary) of the internal NPPD report on the problems, the Subcommittee needs to be swept from office in November and the Committee Staff fired on the spot. I know, it won’t happen, but I just had to vent.


The Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies of the House Homeland Security Committee will be holding a potentially multiple day mark-up hearing on HR 3674 starting on Wednesday. I did a blog post on this bill before it was actually introduced and most of that discussion remains applicable to the bill going into this hearing.

Chairman Lungren (R, CA) will be submitting substitute language for this bill at this hearing. There are some interesting changes being proposed (including some minor but specific control system language), but that is a subject for a separate blog post.

This bill has the hallmarks of being the potential cyber-security bill for this session. The only drawback is that it was also referred to the following committees for consideration:

• House Oversight and Government Reform
• House Science, Space, and Technology
• House Judiciary
• House Intelligence (Permanent Select)

I know the Intelligence Committee has their own bill (HR 3523) that has some conflicting provisions with the current and proposed versions of HR 3674, so we can bet that they won’t hold any hearings on this bill. Similar issues may arise with the other committees as well. The House and Senate leadership are committed to passing cybersecurity legislation this session, but that doesn’t necessarily trump committee politics.

No comments:

/* Use this with templates/template-twocol.html */