Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Committee Hearings – Week of 09-09-18

In a much abbreviated week with both the House and Senate in Washington, there will only be a limited number of committee hearings. There will be two of potential interest to readers of this blog; one dealing with the national threat landscape (including cyber) and the other a look at the status of the implementation of positive train control (PTC) systems.

Threat Landscape

On Thursday the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will be holding a hearing looking at “Evolving Threats to the Homeland”. The witness list includes:

• Kevin Mandia, FireEye, Inc.;
• Cathy Lanier, National Football League;
• Scott McBride, Idaho National Laboratory; and
Jennifer Bisceglie, lnteros Solutions, Inc.

It certainly looks like cybersecurity will be an issue at this hearing, just not the only one.

PTC Update

On Thursday the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing on “The State of Positive Train Control Implementation in the United States”. The witness list includes:

• Ronald L. Batory, Federal Railroad Administration;
• Robert Sumwalt, National Transportation Safety Board;
• Susan A. Fleming, Government Accountability Office;
• Scot Naparstek, Amtrak;
• Edward Hamberger, Association of American Railroads;
• Jeffrey D. Knueppel, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority;
• Stacey Mortensen, Altamont Corridor Express

This hearing could get contentious with the relatively poor performance of the passenger rail lines in complying with the PTC requirements. The Committee Staff has prepared a detailed background document on the PTC program.

On the Floor

It is looking increasingly likely that the House could take up the Conference Report on HR 5895, the EWR spending bill. The Conference Committee completed their work yesterday, but a copy of the report has not yet been issued. This bill is likely to be taken up in at least the House this week. This is the first of the three mini-bus bills that has made it out of conference; HR 6147 and HR 6157 still remain to be addressed.

There is at least one news report that claims only two of the three mini-busses will be approved before the end of the month, meaning that the expected 3-department continuing resolution would have to be expanded to 6 departments. The article does not name the bill that will not make it out of conference, but I suspect that it is HR 6157. The conflict between the House and Senate there was the inclusion of the Health and Human Services spending in with the DOD bill; just too many controversies in the House version of the HHS spending.

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