Saturday, February 28, 2015

Congressional Hearings – Week of 3-1-15

Both the House and Senate will be in session this week. There are lots of budget hearings scheduled, but nothing of specific interest to readers of this blog. There will be four cybersecurity hearings; the most I’ve seen in a single week. There will also be a hearing on the Chemical Safety Board and a markup of the RESPONSE Act.


The following cybersecurity related hearings will be held in the House this week:

● Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations (Committee on Energy and Commerce, Tuesday, “Understanding the Cyber Threat and Implications for the 21st Century Economy
● Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies (Committee on Homeland Security), Wednesday, “Industry Perspectives on the President’s Cybersecurity Information Sharing Proposal.”
● Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities (Committee on Armed Services, Wednesday, “Cyber Operations: Improving the Military Cyber Security Posture in an Uncertain Threat Environment
● Subcommitte on Information Technology (Committee on Oversight and Government Reform), Thursday, “Cybersecurity: The Evolving Nature of Cyber Threats Facing the Private Sector

I don’t expect that there will be any real discussion of control system security at any of these hearings.

Chemical Safety Board

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will be holding a hearing on Wednesday looking at “Rebuilding the Chemical Safety Board: Finding a Solution to the CSB's Governance and Management Challenges”.

There have been a number of complaints in the federal government and industry about the increasing political focus of the CSB’s accident investigation results in recent years. A number of people at OSHA and the EPA have complained about what some call the strident calls for legislative and regulatory action from the CSB. I expect that we will hear the same thing in this hearing.


The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee will be holding a business meeting on Wednesday. One of the items on the agenda is a markup of S 546, a bill that would establish the Railroad Emergency Services Preparedness, Operational Needs, and Safety Evaluation (RESPONSE) Subcommittee under the Federal Emergency Management Agency's National Advisory Council to provide recommendations on emergency responder training and resources relating to hazardous materials incidents involving railroads. The bill was just introduced this week, so the speed of this hearing is an indicator of how much interest there is in the bill.

On the Floor

There is nothing planned for this week in either house that will be of specific interest to readers of this blog. Of course the 500 lb gorilla that hangs over this week in Congress is the FY 2015 spending for DHS. It will be interesting to see if and how the various parties decide to try to work out their differences. What we have seen so far does not bode well for the future of the FY 2016 spending bills that have not yet even started to wend their way through Congress.

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