Sunday, June 24, 2012

Congressional Hearings – Week of 6-22-12

As the summer recess approaches Congress tries to figure out what work will actually get done before the fall election. There is only one hearing of potential interest this week and that deals with TWIC issues. Interestingly two days before this hearing the full House will vote on two bills that deal with the issues being reviewed in this hearing.

TWIC Hearing

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will be holding a hearing on Thursday that looks at the delays and problems with the management of the TWIC program. The witness list is interesting; a Coast Guard Rear Admiral, a policy wonk from DHS, a port authority representative and a union representative. No one from the Transportation Security Administration will be there to answer the various accusations and complaints.

Port Security Week

As the summer recess approaches the House leadership continues to bring up large numbers of bills that will be relatively easy to pass; it helps to counter the election year claims of being a ‘do nothing’ body. This week three of the sixteen bills that will be considered under suspension of the rules will deal with port security issues. Those bills are:

• HR 3173 To direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to reform the process for the enrollment, activation, issuance, and renewal of a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) to require, in total, not more than one in-person visit to a designated enrollment center

• HR 4005 GAPS Act

• HR 4251 Securing Maritime Activities through Risk-based Targeting for (SMART) Port Security Act

I’ve addressed the last two bills in earlier blogs (HR 4005, HR 4251). The first bill is interesting in that it is basically included as a section (§205) in HR 4251. There is an interesting difference though, HR 3173 gives the Secretary 90 days to reform the TWIC application process and HR 4251 allows 270 days. I suppose that whichever passes last is the one that governs the time frame that DHS will ignore.

DOT Appropriations

The House will also consider HR 5272, the DOT and HUD appropriations bill. This will be considered under an open rule with a large number of amendments to be submitted from the floor. I’ve already addressed some of the chemical safety and pipeline safety provisions of the bill in an earlier blog. There is no telling what neat new amendments will be offered on the floor.

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