Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Committee Hearings – Week of 09-06-15

Both houses of Congress are back in session after their annual summer break. The current calendar of hearings for the week is fairly light, but I’m not sure if that is due to a slow start or if all of the hearings have yet to be posted to various web sites. In any case there are only three hearings listed that may be of specific interest to readers of this blog. All three are in the House and two deal with cybersecurity issues. The third hearing is a markup of an emergency response bill.


On Thursday the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence will hold one of its rare public hearings. The topic will be “World Wide Cyber Threats”. No witness list is currently available. I don’t expect a lot of detailed information and probably even less dealing with control system issues, but we can always hope.

The Oversight and Energy Subcommittees of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee will be holding a joint hearing on “Examining Vulnerabilities of America’s Power Supply”. Looking at the current witness list cybersecurity (which is of course mainly control system security in this sector) will be a featured topic. There will also be a focus on Geomagnetic Storms.

The witness list includes:

Daniel Baker, University of Colorado Boulder”
Nadya Bartol, Utilities Telecom Council
Richard Lordan, Electric Power Research Institute
M. Granger Morgan, Carnegie Mellon University
Emergency Response

The Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications Subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee is holding a markup hearing on the committee print of the PREPARE Act. Since the bill has not been introduced yet, I’ll hold off doing a detailed analysis of the bill, but it reauthorizes a number of grant programs for the emergency response community and includes some minor new programs that have been proposed in separate legislation.

On the Floor

The Congress is moving into its most intense month of the session. The major focus is, of course, getting some sort of spending bill finished before the end of the fiscal year. A lot of controversies this year will make getting that bill (almost certainly a continuing resolution) to the President before midnight on the 30th a very difficult job.

There will probably be a move in the Senate to finish up their work on the cybersecurity bill (S 754), but there are no guarantees that they will finish that bill this month. It is possible that the House will eventually take up HR 22, the Drive Act, the transportation authorization bill that was passed by the Senate at the last minute in July. If they don’t there will have to be yet another short term bill authorizing the various surface transportation programs. And adding even more virulence to the political climate this year will be consideration of HJ Res 64, the resolution disapproving the President’s agreement with Iran.

In short, the month of September will be interesting in Washington.

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