Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Rule for Floor Consideration of HR 5326

Yesterday the House Rules Committee approved an open rule for the consideration of HR 5326, the spending bill for Commerce, Justice, Science, and related agencies. According to the Majority Leader’s web site consideration of this bill will begin today and the session is expected to continue until late tonight with the last vote for the day scheduled for between 10:00 and 11:00 pm EDT. The final vote on the bill will probably come tomorrow.

Current Cybersecurity Measures

As I mentioned this weekend the only specific mention of cybersecurity matters in this bill is actually found in the report from the Appropriations Committee. There the Committee reports (page 43):

“Just as the FBI developed its counterterrorism capabilities after 9/11, the Committee supports a similar approach to the cyber threat. The FBI must ensure that agents, analysts and other staff have the skills and resources to operate proactively in the cyber environment. The recommended increase [$23 Million over the President’s budget request] will support an additional 35 computer specialists, 14 special agents, 40 intelligence analysts and 23 professional staff to further develop the FBI capabilities in this area.”

As is typical for Congress the report also requires the FBI to provide an annual report on their national cyber-threat assessment. The report would be prepared in both a classified and non-classified version and would specifically include “an identification and ranking of the foreign governments and non-state actors posing the greatest cyber threats to the United States”.

Floor Amendments

Since there is an ‘open rule’ rule for the consideration of this bill there is no telling what amendments are going to be offered and adopted by the House. Since the bill includes funding for the FBI, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards, there are plenty of places where just about any sort of cyber security issues could be addressed.

The process will be particularly boring as the clerk will read the entire 102 page bill and will be interrupted by proposed amendments as the applicable portion of the bill is reached. There will then be a 5 minute debate on each amendment. While the rule provides that pre-submitted amendments (published in the Congressional Record) will be given priority in consideration there is no requirement that amendments have to be provided in advance of their offering, so there is plenty of opportunity for surprises.

As of about 6:00 am EDT this morning yesterday’s Congressional Record is not yet available for review so I can’t tell what amendments have already been submitted for this bill. I may have an update later today if something of interest shows up.

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