Sunday, February 1, 2015

Committee Hearings – Week of 2-1-15

The number of hearings being conducted this week is on the increase, especially on the Senate side of the building. There are three hearings that may be of specific interest to the readers of this blog; one physical security and one cybersecurity.

Facility Access

The Transportation Security  Subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee will be holding a hearing on Tuesday on “A Review of Access Control Measures at Our Nation’s Airports.” The current witness list includes:

Mr. Mark Hatfield  - TSA, DHS
Mr. Gary D. Perdue - FBI
Ms. Sharon Pinkerton – Airlines for America
Mr. Miguel Southwell – Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Airports share a common problem with large chemical facilities, how to control access through multiple gates in a very long perimeter. There will not be a lot of specifics about security measures discussed here, but the questioning may give some insight on how the new Congress will be looking at security issues.

Cybersecurity Issues

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will be holding two hearings this week on cybersecurity issues. The first hearing will be on Wednesday and it will look at “Building a More Secure Cyber Future: Examining Private Sector Experience with the NIST Framework”. The second hearing will be on Thursday on “Getting it Right on Data Breach and Notification Legislation in the 114th Congress”. There are no witness lists currently published for either hearing.

It will be interesting to see how the conflict between the Commerce Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will play out in the Republican controlled Senate. One of the problems in the last couple of sessions in the Senate that lead to very little actual action on cybersecurity issues was the differing outlooks of the two committees.

Neither of these hearings will specifically address control system issues. The big picture in Congress (for the immediate future at least) will be focused on IT issues and specifically those dealing with the compromise of personal information. Any legislative proposals will reflect that focus, though there may be minor, after-thought language expanding coverage to control systems. This may cause more problems than it solves for the control system security community, we will just have to wait and see.

On the Floor

As I mentioned in two earlier posts today, there are two bills coming to the floor of the House that may be of specific interest to readers of this blog: HR 361 and HR 623. Both will be considered on Monday under the suspension of the rules provisions. This means that the House leadership expects these bills to gain enough bipartisan support to sustain a 60% vote required for passage under these rules. I expect that the votes will be much closer to 90% in favor of these two bills.

The Senate is beginning to look at HR 240, the FY 2015 DHS spending bill that passed in the House last month. There will be a first cloture vote on Monday that could lead to the actual debate on the bill. Watching the recent action on S1, the Keystone pipeline bill, I expect that we will see vigorous debate with a number of amendments offered and voted upon. There is a February 27th deadline to get a bill to the President and we may see a short term continuing resolution while the Senate works on amending HR 240 and the two houses of Congress work out their differences on that bill.

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