Monday, May 28, 2018

HR 5895 Introduced – FY 2019 Energy and Water Spending

Last week Rep. Simpson (R,ID) introduced HR 5895, the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies (EWR) Appropriations Act. For the first time the bill contains a separate reportable category for “Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response”.


The new ‘Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response’ section (under Title III) of the bill covers “expenses including the purchase, construction, and acquisition of plant and capital equipment, and other expenses necessary for energy sector cybersecurity, energy security, and emergency response activities” (pg 22). The spending is set at “$146,000,000, to remain available until expended”.

The Committee Report notes (pg 88) that this is $50.2 million more than requested by the President and $50 million more than was included for similar activities in the FY 2018 spending bill. The spending tables for CESER (pg 126) show three-line items:

• Cybersecurity for Energy Delivery Systems - $116.5 million;
• Infrastructure Security and Energy Restoration - $18.0 million; and
Program Direction - $11.5 million

The bulk of the funding increase ($48.5 million) is found in the first category with the remainder put into Program Direction spending.

The Report also explains that (pg 89):

“Within available funds for Cybersecurity for Energy Delivery Systems, $10,000,000 is for research and development on concepts to simplify and isolate automated systems and remove vulnerabilities that could allow unauthorized access to the grid through digital software systems.”

Moving Forward

The Appropriations Committee markup of this bill has been completed so the next step is to move to the floor of the House. I expect that we will see this bill on the floor sometime in June. There will be amendments from the floor during the debate, but those will be limited by a Rule. The bill is likely to pass with significant bipartisan support and some conservative opposition. The Minority Views section (pgs 192-6) of the Committee Report indicates strong Democratic opposition to many elements of this bill, but the bill will probably pass with just Republican support [added 5-31-18, 12:23 am EDT].

The Senate will take up their own version of the bill, probably in July, if some level of bipartisan support can be found [added 5-31-18, 12:23 am EDT]. A conference committee will work out the inevitable differences in the two bills. There is a distinct possibility that a final version of this bill could be on the President’s desk before the end of the fiscal year.

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