Monday, September 27, 2021

Committee Hearings – Week of 9-27-21

This week with both the House and Senate in session, and the end of the fiscal year at week’s end, there is a full slate of hearings on both sides of the Capitol. Of interest here are oversight hearings for TSA, the CSB and DHS. Lots of important action on the floor of both the House and Senate. It will be a busy week.

Oversight Hearings

On Wednesday, the House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing on “20 Years After 9/11: The State of the Transportation Security Administration”. The witness list will include David Pekoske, the current TSA Administrator and three former Administrators. While this should be a wide ranging discussion, it will probably focus on air travel security as that has been the agency’s focus over its life, but pipeline security questions will be raised.

On Wednesday, the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on “Protecting Communities from Industrial Accidents: Revitalizing the Chemical Safety Board”. No witness list is currently available.

On Thursday, the Oversight, Management, and Accountability Subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing on “20 Years After 9/11: Transforming DHS to Meet the Homeland Security Mission”. The witness list includes:

• Chris Currie, Government Accountability Office,

• Randolph “Tex” Alles, DHS,

• Angela Bailey, DHS

Looking at the witness list, I suspect that this hearing will concentrate on personnel issues. Cybersecurity workforce issues could be addressed.

On the Floor in the Senate

A cloture vote on HR 5305, the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act (FY 2022 Spending continuing resolution plus debt limit extension), is scheduled for early this evening. If this gets the necessary 60 votes to continue debate (not likely) then the Senate will approve the bill later this week. If it fails, the ball would be tossed back to the House for a clean continuing resolution. Plenty of time before the continued government funding is required by Midnight Thursday.

On the Floor of the House

Last month, Speaker Pelosi promised the moderate Democrats a vote on the Senate version of HR 3684, the bipartisan infrastructure bill, today. Instead, it looks like all they are going to get today is a one-hour debate on the bill. The vote is apparently being slipped to Thursday to perhaps give the progressive wing of the Party a chance to vote on their expensive Build Back Better Act. HR 3684 needs to pass before Thursday Midnight as the authorization for most transportation programs expires at that time. This would not be as drastic as a government shutdown, critical programs would continue to operate (if a spending measure is in place), but regulatory enforcement efforts would face legal hurdles.

The final version of the Build Back Better Act is still not completed. The bill was marked up by the House Budget Committee on Saturday, but final changes will take place in the House Rules Committee. No hearing for that consideration is currently scheduled according to the Rules Committee website. Which indicates that horse trading is still going on behind closed doors. This bill is likely to come to the floor with limited debate and no amendments. The progressive Democrats want a floor vote on this bill before HR 3684 is considered.

According to Majority Leader Hoyer’s (D,MD) Weekly Leader site the House should take up two cyber security related bills (along with 10 other bills) under the suspension of the rules process. As I wrote last week, these were also potentially on the schedule last week, but were never taken up. The two bills are:

• HR 4611 – DHS Software Supply Chain Risk Management Act of 2021, and

• S 1917 – K-12 Cybersecurity Act of 2021

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