Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Committee Hearings – Week of 11-11-18

The House and Senate are back in Washington for the first week of the 115th Lame Duck session. The hearing schedule is relatively lite this week. There is one hearing of potential interest that looks at DHS-DOD cybersecurity cooperation.

DHS-DOD Cybersecurity

On Wednesday there will be a joint hearing of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee (House Armed Services Committee) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Subcommittee (House Homeland Security Committee) on “Interagency Cyber Cooperation: Roles, Responsibilities and Authorities of the Department of Defense & the Department of Homeland Security”. The witness list includes:

• Ms. Jeanette Manfra, DHS;
• Kenneth Rapuano, DOD; and
LTG Bradford "B.J." Shwedo

Looking Ahead

Lame duck sessions are always unpredictable, particularly when there is an upcoming change in control of the House. On some issues we could see an increase in bipartisanship because departing members are freer to vote their personal conscience or beliefs because they no longer need to consider the desires of their constituents or financial supporters and on other issues the opposite will be true for the same reasons. Unfortunately, it is hard to predict which will rule on a particular issue.

There are two measures that I will personally be watching for in the coming weeks; the final spending bill (which includes DHS) and the extension of the CFATS program. The first will be publicly controversial mainly because of border wall spending and immigration issues. This may be a bill in the House where we see moderate, out-going Republicans working with Democrats to get a bill passed.

The CFATS situation is more complicated. Most of the controversies on the two bills involved (HR 6992 and S 3405) are being discussed behind the scenes in committee staffs so it is hard to tell what is going on. S 3405 could come to a floor vote (no debate, no amendments) in the Senate at any time once all of the infighting has been resolved. The House bill will probably require at least one hearing, probably two (Homeland Security and Energy and Commerce Committees) before it can come up for a vote on the floor. Of course, we could just see a one-year extension of the program added to the DHS minibus spending bill, but that would mean two Republican committee chairs in the House giving up their influence on the program.

The current deadline for the minibus is December 7th, but that could be extended up to and beyond (‘beyond’ is possible but highly unlikely) December 31st. In either case, passing that bill will effectively mark the passing of the 115th Congress so the CFATS issue will have to be cleared up by that time as well.

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