Monday, September 24, 2018

Committee Hearings – Week of 9-23-18

Both the House and Senate are in Washington this week and it is likely to be the last week the House will be in session before the election. A lot of political hearings this week but there are three hearings that may be of interest; HR 6157 conference report, a homeland security markup hearing and cybersecurity in the energy sector.

HR 6157 Conference

On Tuesday the House Rules Committee will hold a hearing on the Conference Report on HR 6157, the FY 2019 DOD and HHS spending minibus. They will formulate the rule for the floor consideration of the bill. This bill will also include new language providing for the continuing resolution (CR) for DHS spending thru December 6th.

The Senate has already acted favorably on the Conference Report and the other two mini-busses have been sent to the White House. Congress has not come this close to finishing spending bills before the end of the fiscal year in quite some time. This may be the most important achievement of the 115th Congress.

Homeland Security Markup

On Wednesday the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a business meeting that will include the markup of a number of homeland security related bills, including:

S 3405, Protecting and Securing Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attacks Act of 2018;
S 3309, OHS Cyber Incident Response Teams Act of 2018; and  
• S 594, National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium Act of 2017;

There will be a total of 43 bills considered during this meeting, but 21 of them are postal facility naming bills. Most of the remaining bills will be approved by unanimous consent. It will be interesting to see how many amendments are offered on S 3405. The bill did not have any cosponsors when offered and has not acquired any since then. This is unusual in a bill of this type where there is a general consensus on the need for extending the covered program (CFATS).

Unfortunately, we are unlikely to see the text of any of the offered amendments. We will see the revised version of the bill (if changes are made) when the committee report is published in the next month or so (if we are lucky).

Energy Cybersecurity

On Thursday, the Energy Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing looking at “DOE Modernization: The Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER)”. The witness list has not yet been posted, but a press release notes that the Subcommittee will hear from Assistant Secretary Karen Evens who is in charge of the CESER. The discussions here will almost certainly focus on policy level issues, but cybersecurity will certainly be the overarching topic.

On the Floor

With the mid-term election pending the House will be trying to clean up a lot of miscellaneous business this week with grandstanding and political posturing making the most news, but lots of less controversial stuff being taken care of as well. The HR 6157 Conference Report will be the most important, but the House will also be taking up 54 bills under their suspension of the rules procedure; most of these will pass with significant bipartisan support. Bills of interest here include:

HR 6620 – Protecting Critical Infrastructure Against Drones and Emerging Threats Act; and
HR 6229 – National Institute of Standards and Technology Reauthorization Act of 2018, as amended;

As always there will be limited debate, no floor amendments and a supermajority will be required to pass. Both of these bills will pass; no political posturing here – okay, bipartisan posturing.

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