Monday, April 11, 2016

Committee Hearings – Week of 04-10-16

Both the House and Senate will be in Washington this week. The House Appropriations Committee is starting the hearing process for the appropriations bills in earnest; we should start to see those bills in the next couple of weeks. There are only three hearings of specific interest to readers of this blog this week and they all are related (potentially at least) to cybersecurity.

NHTSA Oversight

The Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will be holding an oversight hearing of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Thursday. There are lots of topics of congressional interest for this agency and cybersecurity issues are linked to many of them. I would expect to hear questions about automotive cybersecurity, vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, and the autonomous vehicle program.

There is not witness list published yet, but these oversight hearings are typically the Administrator and perhaps someone from GAO if that agency has a new report.

Grid Security

The Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will be holding a hearing on Thursday on “Blackout! Are We Prepared to Manage the Aftermath of a Cyber-Attack or Other Failure of the Electrical Grid?”. There is no witness list available.


The last one is not really about cybersecurity, but I’m mentioning it because of its obvious link to Brian Krebs, a well-known cybersecurity investigative reporter. The Communications and Technology Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will be holding a markup hearing on a number of bills. It includes HR 2031, the Anti-Swatting Act of 2015.

Swatting is, of course, the act of making a fake emergency call to law enforcement with the intention of instigating a response by a tactical team at someone’s residence. Brian Krebs was targeted by such an attack because of one of his cybersecurity expose’s.

On the Floor

Nothing of specific interest in the House this week, but I will be continuing to watch the Senate for their continued action on HR 636, the FAA authorization bill. We saw 50+ more amendments last Thursday (all non-cybersecurity related) and I expect that we will see more today and tomorrow. I have not yet seen anything with the potential to hold up final consideration of this bill, but this year you can never tell.

I haven’t heard anything new about the Energy Authorization bill (S 2012) that is still being held up in the Senate because of the Flint water crisis. If a settlement on that disagreement is ever obtained, we could see that bill move to a final vote in a day or two.

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