Monday, March 8, 2021

Committee Hearings – Week of 3-7-21

This week, with both the House and Senate in Washington, there is the normal slate of Congressional hearings scheduled. Only one of particular interest here, a cybersecurity hearing in the House

Cybersecurity Hearing

On Wednesday, the House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing on “Modernizing the Federal Civilian Approach to Cybersecurity”. The witness list includes two CISA officials; Acting Director Brandon Wales and Executive Assistant Director for Cybersecurity Eric Goldstein. With the focus on federal cybersecurity, control system security will probably not even be mentioned. We can, however, expect to hear a bunch about SolarWinds and the Microsoft email server problems.

On the Floor

Tomorrow the House will take up the Senate amended version of HR 1319, American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The substitute language that the Senate took up did add some cybersecurity spending, $650 million in §4009 (pg S1149) was given to CISA for “cybersecurity risk mitigation”. No details are available, but I suspect that it will be going to help fund the response to the SolarWinds breaches in federal agencies. The House will almost certainly accept the Senate Amendments with an almost straight party-line vote and Biden will sign it quickly.

Interestingly (okay not really) no one thought to question if this provision met the ‘budgetary affects’ standard for being considered in a budget reconciliation bill, it certainly does not. But it is not controversial, and would have received bipartisan support, so no one asked for a review by the Senate Parliamentarian. There are almost certainly a large number of other spending bequests contained in the bill that would not have met the ‘budgetary effects’ standard if anyone had thought to ask, but spending is still an important political tool in the Congress.

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