Sunday, March 10, 2013

Congressional Hearings – Week of 3-10-13

Both houses in town again this week and maybe the weather will be nice enough for the House to stay the week. Nothing on the Senate side currently scheduled, but we are expecting the Appropriations Committee to have their amendment (either a new bill or amendment language) for the House appropriations bill (HR 933) passed last week, but that’s all being done behind the curtain. The House has a number of hearings of specific or probable interest to the chemical and cyber communities, including CFATS and cybersecurity.


The Environment and the Economy Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold their periodic progress update hearing on CFATS on Thursday. No witness list has yet been posted, though we can expect at least one panel consisting of Under Secretary Beers and ISCD Director Wulf. There may be an industry panel as well.

Readers should remember, I’ve mentioned it enough times, that the last time this hearing was held in September, Beers promised Chairman Shimkus (R,IL) that the new CFATS Personnel Surety Program 60-day ICR notice would be published in the Federal Register within 30-days. It has been just about six months and Shimkus is sure to remind Beers about the failed promise.

I suspect that there will also be questions about how CFATS will deal with the President’s cybersecurity executive order. It is clearly one of the regulatory programs that could be modified fairly easily to implement the Framework being developed by NIST.


There are going to be two cybersecurity hearings this week, one before the House Homeland Security Committee (postponed from last week due to snowmaggedon) and a different look from the House Judiciary Committee.

The Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security and Investigations (quite a wide area of responsibility) will hold a hearing on Wednesday looking at “Investigating and Prosecuting 21st Century Cyber Threats”. No witness list is yet available, but I suspect that we will see the FBI and Justice Department represented before the Subcommittee at the very least.


The Transportation Security Subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday to look at “TSA’s Efforts to Advance Risk-Based Security”. No witness list has been announced. As usual this will focus primarily on passenger air transportation and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear questions on the effects of sequestration on passenger screening. There is always the remote possibility that there will be some discussion of surface transportation security, but that would certainly also focus on passenger transportation security issues. Who cares about hazardous chemical rolling around the country?


The Communications and Technology Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold an oversight hearing on Thursday for the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and Emergency Communications. Again no witness list has been published. I would love to hear some questions about the inclusion in the FirstNet of private sector security and response personnel looking after critical infrastructure. Probably not though; why would they need to communicate with first responders since they are already on the scene when the first responders get there?

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