Sunday, June 2, 2013

Congressional Hearings – Week of 06-02-13

The House and Senate return to Washington, rested and refreshed from a very long Memorial Day weekend. Work starts to get serious on spending bills as the long summer recess approaches. The House has four spending related hearings scheduled for this week that might be of interest to readers of this blog. Also, floor action is expected on two spending bills; the military construction bill and the DHS FY2014 appropriations bill.

Rule Hearing on Two Appropriations Bills

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the House Rules Committee will be meeting Monday evening to consider the rules for House floor consideration of HR 2016, the military construction bill, and HR 2017, the FY 2014 DHS appropriations bill. I expect that both of these bills will get open rules with nearly unfettered submission of amendments from the floor.

The current floor calendar indicates that HR 2016 will be considered first, so we may not get to a final vote on HR 2017 until next week since the current plan is for the last vote for the week to take place Thursday afternoon.

Subcommittee Markup of Two Appropriations Bills

The House Appropriations Committee will have two subcommittee markup hearings this week; one for the Ag Dept bill and one for the DOD bill. Both hearings will be on Thursday. I usually watch the DOD bill for cybersecurity measures. I’m going to be watching the Ag bill this year for fallout from the West Fertilizer explosion.

Neither subcommittee has published a draft bill or report yet. I kind of expect to see those later this week.

DOD Authorization Bill

HR 1960 as introduced did not have any specific cybersecurity language associated with it. That may change when the full House Armed Services Committee meets on Thursday to markup the bill. At the very least I expect that we will see cybersecurity language in the Committee report on the bill, but we probably will not see that report for a week or two.

The Missing Hearings

As I write this there are no hearing posted for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Sen. Boxer had promised to hold early hearings on the problems identified by the West Fertilizer Explosion in April. At the very least we should be able to expect to see her Committee address the Chemical Safety Board/ATF conflict; the Committee has oversight responsibility for the CSB. Similarly we could expect to see a House hearing from the Energy and Commerce Committee for the same reason.

I would like to think that the homeland security committees in both houses would hold hearings on the CFATS issues raised by the failure of West Fertilizer to complete a Top Screen submission for their holdings of anhydrous ammonia and ammonium nitrate. A possible explanation for there being no word on such a hearing might be that ISCD/NPPD has told the Committees on the QT that even if a Top Screen had been filed, the facility would not have been identified as a high-risk facility due to its rural location.

It may be a little too early yet, the dust is still settling on the CSB-ATF conflict. I would be surprised though if we haven’t seen at least one such hearing before the July 4th recess. In fact, this might be a good topic for a field hearing during that recess. It would be a good source of fireworks.

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