Washington Weekly – May 23, 2014

May 23, 2014

The House passed the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act as well as a bill to end the NSA’s bulk data collection of Americans’ phone metadata. The House also passed legislation that makes it easier for the head of the Veterans Affairs Department to fire and demote poorly performing senior executives, in response to a growing scandal over allegations that VA employees falsified documents related to patient care putting veterans on secret waiting lists. The Senate passed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act conference report in addition to a couple of nominations.

FY2015 Appropriations

House

The House Appropriations Committee marked up its $20.88 billion FY15 Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Agencies spending bill in subcommittee this week. The bill funds agricultural and food programs and services, including food and medical product safety, animal and plant health programs, rural development and farm services, marketplace oversight, and nutrition programs. While the FY15 discretionary funding level for the bill is the same as the FY14 enacted level, the overall bill (mandatory and discretionary funding) is $1.5 billion below the President’s FY15 request and $3 billion below the FY14 enacted level. The bill provides $2.65 billion for agriculture research programs; $6.6 billion in discretionary funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); $870.8 million for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service; $869 million to help farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners conserve and protect their land; $1.5 billion for the Farm Service Agency; $2.6 billion for rural development programs; $45 million for the rural business and industry loan program; $1.3 billion for rural water and waste program loans, and $606 million for grants; $24 billion in loan authority for the Single Family Housing guaranteed loan program; $1 billion for food safety and inspection programs; almost $2.6 billion in discretionary funding for the FDA; $218 million for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission; and $1.7 billion for overseas food aid. The bill will be considered in full committee next Thursday.

The House Appropriations Committee also approved its $52 billion FY15 Transportation-Housing and Urban Development bill in full committee on a near-party line vote of 28 to 21. While this was the fourth FY15 spending bill for the full committee to consider this year, it was the first one to require a recorded vote instead of advancing on a voice vote. Democrats offered a number of amendments to reverse proposed funding cuts for Amtrak, the TIGER grant program, and Community Development Block Grants, all of which were either rejected or withdrawn. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) also offered an amendment to raise the minimum wage that Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) said was an attempt to disrupt the committee’s work. The bill provides $1.2 billion more than what was enacted in FY14, but $7.8 billion less than the President’s FY15 request.

The FY15 Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill that was approved by the full House Appropriations committee on May 8 was considered by the House Rules Committee earlier this week. The bill is expected to be considered on the House floor next week. The Rules Committee approved an open rule meaning that any Member may offer an amendment during floor consideration of the bill.

Senate

The Senate Appropriations Committee marked up its FY15 Military Construction-Veterans Affairs and Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Agencies spending bills in subcommittee on Tuesday and full committee on Thursday.

The Senate’s $20.575 billion FY15 Agriculture appropriations bill is slightly lower than the House’s version and $90 million below the FY14 enacted level, but $228 million above the President’s budget request. The bill includes $100 million in disaster relief funding as well as $1.139 billion for the Agriculture Research Service; $6.623 billion for WIC; $1.094 billion for rural development rental assistance; $1.7 billion in water and waste loans and grants; $25 billion for single family housing financing; $2.588 billion for the FDA; $1.183 billion for the Farm Service Agency; and $876 million for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. During the full committee markup, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) offered an amendment to add fresh white potatoes to the eligible items list for the WIC program. The amendment was agreed to.

The Senate also marked up its $71.898 billion FY15 Military Construction-Veterans Affairs bill. This bill could be the first bill to hit the Senate floor in late June. The bill provides $6.559 billion for military construction and family housing, $3.25 billion below the FY14 enacted level. It also provides $158.6 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for FY15, $93.5 billion of which is for mandatory programs (equal to the request and $8.8 billion above the FY14 enacted level). For VA discretionary funding the bill provides $65.1 billion, $1.85 billion above the FY14 enacted level. The bill appropriates $5 million for the VA’s inspector general to conduct an investigation into accusations that veterans died while awaiting care at a Phoenix VA hospital. The bill also provides $326.4 million to modernize the VA’s Electronic Health Record System, and requires oversight controls to ensure that interoperability remains the focus of efforts within both the VA and DOD as they modernize their respective electronic health record systems.

The committee also approved its 302(b) allocations. Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) moved some State Department funding into the OCO account to avoid making cuts to domestic programs for FY15. The allocations were approved 16-14.

The 302(b) allocations for the House and Senate are as follows:

*in millions

Subcommittee FY13 (with sequestration) FY14 Omnibus FY15 House FY15 Senate House-Senate
Agriculture $19,560 $20,880 $20,880 $20,575 $305
Commerce-Justice-Science 47,020 51,600 51,202 51,202 0
Defense 486,297 486,851 490,960 489,605 1,355
   Overseas Contingency

Operations (OCO)

82,190 85,191 79,445 N/A N/A
Energy & Water 34,263 34,060 34,010 34,208 (198)
Financial Services 19,874 21,851 21,276 22,518 (1,242)
Homeland Security 37,759 39,270 39,220 39,000 220
Interior-Environment 28,240 30,058 30,220 29,450 770
Labor-HHS-Education 149,640 156,773 155,693 156,773 (1,080)
Legislative Branch 4,061 4,258 4,258 4,300 (42)
Military Construction-VA 70,909 73,299 71,499 71,898 (399)
State-Foreign Operations 40,358 42,481 42,381 39,660 2,721
   OCO 10,843 6,520 5,912 N/A N/A
Transportation-HUD 48,441 50,856 52,029 54,439 (2,410)

 

FY2015 Appropriations Bill Status

Appropriations Subcommittee House Action Senate Action
Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Agencies Subcommittee: May 20

Full Committee: May 29

Subcommittee: May 20

Full Committee: May 22

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee: April 30

Full Committee: May 8

House Floor: May 28

Full Committee: June 5
Defense    
Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies    
Financial Services and General Government    
Homeland Security Subcommittee: May 28  
Interior    
Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies    
Legislative Branch Subcommittee: April 3

Full Committee: April 9

Floor: May 1

 
Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Subcommittee: April 3

Full Committee: April 9

Floor: April 30

Subcommittee: May 20

Full Committee: May 22

State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs    
Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies Subcommittee: May 7

Full Committee: May 21

Full Committee: June 5

FY15 National Defense Authorization Act

The House passed the FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act this week by a vote of 325 to 98. The bill provides $495.8 billion for the core defense budget, $17.9 billion for energy programs, and $79.4 billion for the war in Afghanistan and other overseas operations. The bill does not specify where the overseas contingency funds are to be spent because the administration has yet to formally submit a detailed budget request for the account to Congress. The House Rules Committee allowed 162 amendments to be offered during floor consideration. Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) criticized fellow lawmakers for “ducking every difficult decision” and “playing accounting games and cutting readiness.” Smith had proposed amendments to authorize a 2017 BRAC and permit the Navy to take cruisers out of service, neither of which were made in order.

Some of the amendments that were agreed during floor consideration include requiring the president to report to Congress on the identity and location of the perpetrators of the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi; restricting funding for the implementation of the 2010 New START nuclear arms reduction treaty until the Defense secretary certifies that Russia is no longer occupying Ukranian territory; requiring the DOD IG to publicly release reports of investigations that confirm misconduct by members of the senior executive service, political appointees or commissioned officers in the armed forces in pay grades O-6 or above; and requiring the GAO to complete a report on the National Telecommunications & Information Administration’s planned hand-off of some oversight of the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) domain naming system.

Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) said that he hopes to conference the bill with the Senate and complete action before the November election. The White House issued a veto threat (although the vote count makes it veto proof) over the inclusion of restrictions regarding Guantanamo detainees as well as other issues that made the final bill.

The Senate Armed Services Committee marked up its version of the FY15 NDAA in subcommittee and full committee this week. The committee passed the bill on Thursday by a vote of 25 to 1 (Sen. Mike Lee, R-UT was the lone dissenter). The bill authorizes $514 billion in FY15 for the Department of Defense and the national security programs of the Department of Energy. The Senate also rejected many of the administration’s proposed cost-cutting proposals including reversing the proposal to retire the Air Force’s A-10 attack jets, BRAC, and cut compensation costs. However, unlike the House bill, the Senate bill provides a path to closing the Guantanamo detention facility by authorizing the transfer of detainees to the United States, subject to a congressional vote on a joint resolution of disapproval. Green energy advocates are applauding several provisions in the bill including authorization for DOD programs establishing infrastructure for natural gas and other alternative fuel vehicles and requiring DOD to set up an office to manage R&D and deployment of radios and other equipment powered by solar or other advanced sources. A committee summary of the bill can be found at: http://www.vantagepointstrat.com/?attachment_id=197.

The biggest issue the two committees may have to resolve during conference negotiations is the official title of this year’s NDAA. As both HASC Chairman McKeon and SASC Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) are retiring at the end of the year, the House and Senate versions of the bill are being named after them, respectively.

Homeland Security

The House Homeland Security Committee marked up three bills in subcommittee this week: HR 3202, the Essential Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) Assessment Act; HR 3488, a bill establishing the conditions under which the Secretary of Homeland Security may establish preclearance facilities, conduct preclearance operations, and provide customs services outside the United States; and HR 3846, the US Customs and Border Protection Authorization Act. HR 3202 was introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) last Fall in response to a June 2013 GAO report on the TWIC program. The bill would require the Secretary of DHS to prepare a comprehensive security assessment of the TWIC program as well as a corrective action plan. HR 3846 would provide for the authorization of border, maritime, and transportation security responsibilities and functions in DHS. This measure is the first to formally authorize CBP and clarify the security missions of the Department since the Department of Homeland Security was created in 2002.

Cybersecurity

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) marked up S 2354 the DHS Cybersecurity Workforce Recruitment and Retention Act of 2014 in committee this week. The bill gives the DHS Secretary hiring and compensation authorities for cybersecurity experts like those of the Secretary of Defense. Ranking member Tom Coburn (R-OK) said that he is supportive of the bill with a caveat that it has to have an offset. Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) assured Sen. Coburn that he would hold the bill on the floor until an offset is identified. One potential offset is savings from S 1691, the Border Patrol Agent Pay Reform Act sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). The bill was also on the markup schedule for the committee, but was pulled after Sen. Coburn raised concerns. Sen. Tester offered to hold a hearing on S 1691 after the Memorial Day recess to address Sen. Coburn’s concerns. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Chair of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee and a member of the Senate HSGAC raised concerns about the bill’s focus on the need to hire cybersecurity workers in the DC area. Landrieu said that one of the solutions to the problem is to find talent outside of the Beltway where $185,000 is a more competitive salary. Instead of opposing the bill, Landrieu voted “present” after Chairman Carper assured her he would work with her to assuage her concerns prior to Senate floor action. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) offered an amendment to the bill that would require DHS to implement the framework for the federal cybersecurity workforce from the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education that would provide a common lexicon and job codes. After being amended, the bill passed by voice vote.

When the White House issued Executive Order (EO) 13636 “Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity in February 2013, the administration required all Executive Branch agencies (not independent regulators) to assess whether and how existing cybersecurity regulation could be streamlined and better aligned with the Cybersecurity Framework launched in February 2014. The EO specifically directed Executive Branch departments and agencies with responsibility for regulating the security of private-sector critical infrastructure to: (1) assess the sufficiency of existing regulatory authority to establish requirements based on the Cybersecurity Framework to address current and projected cyber risks; and (2) identify proposed changes in order to address insufficiencies identified. Three departments and agencies were required to submit reports: Environmental Protection Agency (drinking water and waste-water), Department of Health and Human Services (medical devices, electronic health records, health exchanges), and the Department of Homeland Security (chemical facilities and transportation). The agencies responded to the White House this week in reports made public Thursday afternoon that current law gives them authority to regulate cybersecurity in sectors of privately owned critical infrastructure, but that they were reluctant in calling for new regulations. Their individual reports can be found here:

DHS: http://www.dhs.gov/publication/eo-13636-improving-ci-cybersecurity

HHS: http://www.dhs.gov/publication/eo-13636-improving-ci-cybersecurity

EPA: http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/watersecurity/upload/EO_13696_10-b-_EPA_response.pdf

NSA

Even though Google, Facebook and other tech groups joined privacy advocates and pulled their support for HR 3361, the USA Freedom Act citing concerns that vaguely worded provisions in the modified bill could allow bulk collection of Americans’ phone records to continue, the bill passed the House this week by a vote of 303 to 121. The modified bill terminates the authority to collect metadata in bulk but also provides a means for the FISA court to order production of metadata associated with individual identifiers and those within two hops of those identifiers. The Administration endorsed the bill on Wednesday in a Statement of Administration Policy stating that the bill ensures “intelligence and law enforcement professionals have the authorities they need to protect the Nation, while further ensuring that individuals’ privacy is appropriately protected.” The controversy over whether or not the bill ends bulk collection stems from the change in the bill for the definition of “specific selection term.” The change in the definition came after weeks of negotiation with the administration. Opponents to the bill were concerned that the new definition was too vague and would not end bulk collections. The bill requires notices to Congress and the public when the court makes any new interpretation of that definition.The FISA Court will likely issue an opinion interpreting the term and the bill as a whole. The Senate may try to tighten up some of the language when they consider it, but in doing so may lose the support of the intelligence community. Timing of Senate consideration is unclear at this point.

Political Updates

Later today Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan is expected to be nominated by President Obama to be the next director of the Office of Management and Budget. Donovan would replace Sylvia Mathews Burwell who was nominated to be the next secretary of Health and Human Services. Donovan will be replaced at HUD by San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro.

Two cities, Las Vegas and Cincinnati, withdrew their bids this week from the Republican National Committee (RNC) to host the 2016 Republican convention. The RNC site selection committee will now make visits to the four remaining would-be host cities: Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, and Kansas City, Missouri. Last month, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) asked 15 cities to bid:: Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Miami, Nashville, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, and Salt Lake City. Initial proposals are due back in the next few weeks; then party officials will start the review process.
Robert Gates, the former secretary of defense and director of the Central Intelligence Agency, was elected president of the Boy Scouts of America on Thursday.

Next Week

The House will take up the FY15 CJS appropriations bill as well as HR 4681, a bill authorizing classified funding levels for U.S. intelligence agencies for FY14 and FY15. The Senate is in recess next week, but will take up Sylvia Mathews Burwell’s nomination to be Health and Human Services secretary when they return.

Washington Weekly – May 16, 2014

May 16, 2014

The Senate failed to invoke cloture on S 2262, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act and on their tax extenders legislation (S 2260). The House was in recess this week.

FY2015 Appropriations

The House is scheduled to markup its FY15 Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Agencies spending bill in subcommittee next week. The FY15 Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill that was approved by the full committee on May 8 will go to the Rules Committee next week and the House floor the following week.

The 302(b) allocations for the House are as follows:

*in millions

Subcommittee FY13 (with sequestration) FY14 Omnibus FY15 House
Agriculture $19,560 $20,880 $20,880
Commerce-Justice-Science 47,020 51,600 51,202
Defense 486,297 486,851 490,960
Overseas Contingency

Operations (OCO)

82,190 85,191 79,445
Energy & Water 34,263 34,060 34,010
Financial Services 19,874 21,851 21,276
Homeland Security 37,759 39,270 39,220
Interior-Environment 28,240 30,058 30,220
Labor-HHS-Education 149,640 156,773 155,693
Legislative Branch 4,061 4,258 4,258
Military Construction-VA 70,909 73,299 71,499
State-Foreign Operations 40,358 42,481 42,381
OCO 10,843 6,520 5,912
Transportation-HUD 48,441 50,856 52,029

Senate Appropriations chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) said this week that her goal is to have all of the non-national security appropriations bills marked up in committee by the July 4th recess. The national security appropriations bills would follow and be done by July 10. Bills will start coming to the Senate floor the second week in July. Senate Defense Appropriations chairman Richard Durbin (D-IL) confirmed that schedule this week saying that he wants to have his bill drafted by the first week of July (July 7 as Congress is in recess the previous week).

Sen. Mikulski kicked off the FY15 appropriations process this week by informing subcommittee chairs of their tentative 302(b) allocations. The full committee will finalize the allocations next Thursday. Senate Republicans are meeting next week to decide if they will support the allocations. Controversy over the allocations stems from a $4.3 billion accounting disparity between the Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office related to government earnings from Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgages and the need to find offsets for that disparity. In addition to approving the 302(b)s next week, the committee will also markup the FY15 Agriculture and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs spending bills in subcommittee on Tuesday and full committee on Thursday.

FY2015 Appropriations Bill Status

Appropriations Subcommittee House Action Senate Action
Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Agencies Subcommittee: May 20 Subcommittee: May 20

Full Committee: May 22

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee: April 30

Full Committee: May 8

House Floor: Week of May 26

 
Defense Subcommittee: Week of May 26 (tentative)  
Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies    
Financial Services and General Government    
Homeland Security Subcommittee: Week of May 19  
Interior    
Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies    
Legislative Branch Subcommittee: April 3

Full Committee: April 9

Floor: May 1

 
Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Subcommittee: April 3

Full Committee: April 9

Floor: April 30

Subcommittee: May 20

Full Committee: May 22

State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs    
Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies Subcommittee: May 7

Full Committee: Week of May 19

 

FY15 National Defense Authorization Act

The FY15 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) will be debated on the House floor next week. Amendments are due to the House Rules Committee by 10 am on Monday. Some likely amendments include blocking the purchase of helicopters from Russian contractors, as well as proposals to remove the military chain of command from decisions to prosecute sexual assault cases and to allow relocation of detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. On the Senate side, the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) has the following markup schedule next week:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

9:30 a.m. — Subcommittee on Airland. OPEN. Room SD-G50.

11:00 a.m. —Subcommittee on Seapower. CLOSED. Room SR-222.

2:00 p.m. —Subcommittee on Strategic Forces. CLOSED. Room SR-222.

3:30 p.m. —Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support. OPEN. Room SD-G50.

5:00 p.m. —Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities. OPEN. Room SD-G50.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

10:00 a.m. —Subcommittee on Personnel. OPEN. Room SD-G50.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

2:30 p.m. — 9:00 p.m. Full Committee. CLOSED. Room SR-222.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

9:30 a.m. — 9:00 p.m. [with a break for lunch] Full Committee. CLOSED. Room SR-222.

If markup is not completed on Thursday, May 22, then:

Friday, May 23, 2014

9:30 a.m. — Completion Full Committee. CLOSED. Room SR-222.

Tax Extenders

The Senate failed this week to invoke cloture on their tax extenders bill (S 2260). The $85 billion extenders bill would have renewed for two years nearly all of the 55 tax breaks that expired on Dec 31. Some of the energy tax breaks included in the bill are a renewable electricity production tax credit, credits for cellulosic biofuels, biodiesel and renewable diesels, home energy efficiency upgrades, new energy efficient homes and commercial buildings, alternative fuel refueling property, electric motorcycles, and fuel cell motor vehicles. Other tax breaks in the bill include the research credit, a provision allowing companies to defer US taxes on overseas financing operations, continuing the 50% bonus depreciation for capital investments, letting teachers deduct out-of-pocket expenses for school supplies, letting homeowners exclude forgiven debt from income, providing incentives for businesses to hire veterans and other members of disadvantaged groups, and a cost depreciation for racehorses. While the bill had bipartisan support when it was marked up and approved by voice vote in the Senate Finance Committee, Senate Democrats and Republicans disagreed over offering amendments on the Senate floor. The bill isn’t likely to come up again until after the elections in November.

On the House side, members are pursuing a piece-by-piece approach. Last week they passed a $156 billion bill (HR 4438) to permanently extend the research and development credit. The White House threatened to veto the bill because there was no offset.

Political Updates

The Wayne County Clerk’s office ruled this week that Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) is ineligible to appear on the Aug. 5 primary ballot because he did not submit enough valid petition signatures. Conyers is expected to appeal the ruling, but could also run a write-in campaign if he is unsuccessful in his appeal. Conyers is the Ranking Member on the House Judiciary Committee.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work announced this week that Terry Halvorsen, Navy Chief Information Officer, would become the department’s acting CIO on May 21 replacing Teri Takai who stepped down May 2.

The President nominated Victor Mendez to be Deputy Secretary of Transportation and Peter Rogoff to be Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy. Mendez has been Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration at the Department of Transportation (DOT) since 2009 and was designated the Acting Deputy Secretary of Transportation in 2013. Prior to this position, he was a member of former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano’s Cabinet, serving as the Director of the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) from 2003 to 2009. Peter Rogoff has been the Federal Transit Administrator (FTA) for DOT since 2009 and was designated Acting Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy in 2014. Prior to joining the FTA, he served as a Democratic Staff Director on the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee 1995 to 2009.

On Monday President Obama formally withdrew the nomination of Tommy Beaudreau to be the assistant secretary of the interior, since Beaudreau has instead become Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s Chief of Staff. His nomination was sent to the Senate in January after being announced in October. Beaudreau first came to Interior in June 2010 to reorganize the federal government’s oversight of offshore oil and gas drilling, and became director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in 2011.

Next Week

The House will consider the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act on the floor. The House could also vote on legislation to scale back bulk collection of domestic phone records by the National Security Agency and other government entities. The Senate will consider two nominations early in the week.

Washington Weekly – May 9, 2014

May 9, 2014

The House passed a resolution establishing a select committee of seven Republicans and five Democrats to investigate the September 2012 attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi. They also passed a bill changing federal regulations of charter schools (HR 10), a bill making permanent a research and development tax credit (HR 4438), and the Electrify Africa Act, which requires the President to establish a comprehensive, multiyear strategy for the US to help sub-Saharan African nations to improve access to electricity in Africa. The House also passed a measure, mostly along party lines, holding former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress. The matter now goes to the Justice Department. The Senate voted on cloture on the motion to proceed on S 2262, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (also referred to as the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill), but Senate leaders were not able to strike a deal to move forward on the bipartisan bill. The Senate did pass a bill clarifying DC rules regarding occupancy of penthouses above the top story of a building in addition to a number of judicial nominations.

FY2015 Appropriations

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) laid out his plan on Tuesday for dividing the $1.014 trillion in discretionary budget authority for FY15 among the 12 appropriations subcommittees. The full committee voted on the allocations on Thursday and approved them in a partisan 25-20 vote.Senate allocations were also expected to be released this week, but they were delayed due to an accounting disagreement between OMB and CBO over the calculation for the government’s earnings from mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration leaving a $4.3 billion difference. House appropriators made up for this $4.3B difference with cuts to some Transportation-HUD appropriations accounts. The Senate is expected to finalize their 302(b) allocations before their anticipated first subcommittee markup on May 22. Both House and Senate appropriations committees are expected to adhere to the $1.014 trillion in discretionary funding set aside for FY15 under the December budget deal. The deal capped discretionary spending at $521.3 billion for defense programs and $492.4 billion for non-defense programs.

The 302(b) allocations for the House are as follows:

*in millions

Subcommittee FY13 (with sequestration) FY14 Omnibus FY15 House
Agriculture $19,560 $20,880 $20,880
Commerce-Justice-Science 47,020 51,600 51,202
Defense 486,297 486,851 490,960
Overseas Contingency

Operations (OCO)

82,190 85,191 79,445
Energy & Water 34,263 34,060 34,010
Financial Services 19,874 21,851 21,276
Homeland Security 37,759 39,270 39,220
Interior-Environment 28,240 30,058 30,220
Labor-HHS-Education 149,640 156,773 155,693
Legislative Branch 4,061 4,258 4,258
Military Construction-VA 70,909 73,299 71,499
State-Foreign Operations 40,358 42,481 42,381
OCO 10,843 6,520 5,912
Transportation-HUD 48,441 50,856 52,029

In addition to agreeing to the proposed 302(b) allocations, the House Appropriations Committee also marked up their $51.2 billion FY15 Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) bill in full committee on Thursday. This is a $398 million decrease from FY14. The Department of Justice (DOJ) receives $27.8 billion (a $383 million increase over FY14) in bill with increased spending levels for DOJ law enforcement agencies including the FBI, DEA, US Marshals, and ATF. The bill also provides $8.4 billion for the Commerce Department, a $171 million increase over FY14 with the Census Bureau receiving an additional $1.1 billion to prepare for the next census. NASA and NSF also received increases of $237 million over FY14 with funding set at $17.9 billion for NASA and $7.4 billion for NSF. The bill was approved by a voice vote after the committee accepted an amendment to withhold funding for efforts to make gun dealers inform DOJ when they sell multiple rifles or shotguns to the same person within five days.

The House also began marking up their FY15 Transportation-HUD spending measure in subcommittee this week. The bill provides $52 billion in discretionary funding for infrastructure and housing programs, a $1.2 billion increase over FY14 but $7.8 billion less than the President’s FY15 request. However, given the accounting disagreement between OMB and CBO over the calculation of Federal Housing Administration receipts, the program level within the bill is more accurately $1.8 billion below the current level. HUD funding was cut by $769 million from FY14 funding levels and $2 billion less than the President’s request. TIGER grants were also cut by $500 million from FY14 levels ($1.15 billion less than requested by the President), and projects such as streetscaping, or bike and pedestrian paths are no longer eligible for this funding. The FAA received a slight decrease of $7.3 million and was funded at $15.7 billion. The bill also fully funds the FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation Systems (NextGen) at $852.4 million, and funds Contract Towers at $140 million. The Federal Railroad Administration’s safety programs were increased to $220.5 million. The Maritime Administration saw a decrease of $72 million from FY14 with funding at $305 million. The bill was approved by voice vote and will be marked up in full committee the week of May 19 when the House returns from their mid-May recess.

The House is expected to take up the Homeland Security spending bill after the mid-May recess.

The Senate Appropriations Committee continues with hearings next week on FY15 funding for defense research and innovation, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Appropriations Subcommittee House Action Senate Action
Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Agencies    
Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee: April 30

Full Committee: May 8

 
Defense    
Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies    
Financial Services and General Government    
Homeland Security Subcommittee: Week of May 19  
Interior    
Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies    
Legislative Branch Subcommittee: April 3

Full Committee: April 9

Floor: May 1

 
Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Subcommittee: April 3

Full Committee: April 9

Floor: April 30

Full Committee: May 22?
State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs    
Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies Subcommittee: May 7

Full Committee: Week of May 19

 

NSA Surveillance Reform

Two House Committees (Judiciary and Intelligence) were initially moving ahead this week with competing proposals to reform the government’s surveillance programs. The contest between the two committees began earlier this year when HR 4291, the FISA Transparency and Modernization Act, was introduced by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Ranking Member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) and referred to their committee by the House parliamentarian. Some House Judiciary Committee members raised concerns that matters involving the legal authority of the intelligence community fall under their committee’s jurisdiction.

The House Judiciary Committee decided to move forward this week with their bill, the USA Freedom Act (HR 3361). The bipartisan bill was approved in committee 32 to 0 and would prohibit the bulk collection of telephone metadata under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act under the FISA Pen Register/Trap and Trace law (Section 402 of FISA), and under National Security Letter statutes. The bill also creates a new process for obtaining call records; requires the government to adopt procedures to minimize the retention and prohibit the dissemination of nonpublic information about Americans; provides for judicial review of minimization procedures; creates a panel of legal experts to help ensure the FISA court adequately considers privacy concerns; requires the Attorney General to conduct a declassification review of each decision, order, or opinion of the FISA court that includes a significant construction or interpretation of the law; requires the government to disclose the number of requests made for call detail records under the new collection program; requires the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to publicly report annually the number of FISA orders issued, modified, or denied by the FISC; and allows companies to semi-annually publicly report requests for information they receive under FISA and National Security Letter authorities.

The House Intelligence Committee had intended to mark up their FISA Transparency and Modernization Act in a closed session this week, but after negotiations with House leadership and the Judiciary Committee they elected to not hold a vote on their bill and instead considered and passed by voice vote the Freedom Act. The bill now heads to the House floor and is expected to be cleared before Memorial Day. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has sponsored a companion version of the Freedom Act in his chamber, but timing for consideration in the Senate is only stated as “this summer.”

FY15 National Defense Authorization Act

The House Armed Services Committee met in full committee this week to mark up their FY15 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (HR 4435). The committee unanimously approved the bill and it now goes to the House floor for consideration the week of May 19.

The HASC bill authorizes $521.3 billion in spending for national defense, and an additional $79.4 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). This is consistent with the President’s budget request and the bi-partisan budget agreement reached last December, however, it is $45 billion less than the President requested in FY14 and $30.7 billion less than Congress enacted in FY14.

BRAC

The Committee rejected the President’s proposed BRAC round maintaining that “BRAC rounds do not yield true savings but rather impose large up front costs only then to shift property between federal agencies.” The committee also rejected an amendment offered by Rep. Smith during the full committee markup that would have allowed the Pentagon close excess military facilities but with the requirement that savings would have to be realized within five years. The bill instead requires DoD to report on several BRAC related topics, including a report on excess capacity, a report on the property disposal process, and an assessment of each prior BRAC round – listing by acre property disposals and acreage left to dispose of, an assessment of land sale revenues, the cost of environmental cleanup and caretaker services, and how much remediation is left to do.

Military Compensation and Benefits

In his FY15 budget request, the President proposed cuts to TRICARE, Housing Allowances, and Commissary benefits. The FY13 NDAA established a military compensation commission to examine a range of reforms and report back to Congress. HASC Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) stated that military compensation reform should be addressed comprehensively, and that the committee is not willing to make reforms until the commission provides its recommendations. However, the bill does require DoD to consult with outside experts in retail grocery sales to find efficiencies in the commissary system.

Troop Pay

The chairman’s mark supports current law, which mandates an automatic 1.8% increase in troop pay, but also calls for a pay freeze for General and Flag Officers for FY15.

Sexual Assault in the Military

The bill eliminates the “good soldier defense” – a consideration of general military character toward the probability of innocence in sexual assault prosecutions. The proposal also calls for a review of the terms of discharge for those who are victims of sexual offenses, to ensure that they have not been persecuted for reporting crimes. Victims would also be consulted as to their preference for prosecuting offenders by court-martial or through civilian channels.

Military Suicide

The committee directs the Secretary of Defense to track the issue closely and authorizes a total of $45.3 million dollars towards behavioral and psychological health programs and efforts specifically for Special Operations Forces. Funding for the USSOCOM Behavioral Health and Warrior Care Management Program is increased from $14.8 million to $38.1 million to immediately increase the number of embedded behavioral health care providers including psychologists, social workers, nurse case managers, and operational psychologists. And the USSOCOM Psychological Performance Program was fully funded at the $7.2 million dollar requested level.

Military Readiness

Readiness programs were increased by $1 billion to address critical readiness gaps associated with depot maintenance, flying hour programs and base operations support caused by sequestration and repeated resource cuts.

Afghanistan

The Chairman’s proposal expresses Congress’ support for Operation Resolute Support and for the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA). The bill also expresses the committee’s view that the counternarcotics mission be included in the core enduring mission set. The Chairman’s Mark proposes establishing the “1230 Report” on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan for the post-2014 environment, extends the Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP) in Afghanistan, requires a plan for monitoring DoD funded construction activities in Afghanistan post-2014, and requires a report on the financial management capacity of the Afghan ministries of Defense and Interior. The bill also requires the Secretary of Defense to submit an ANSF sustainment plan through the end of FY18. And finally, the proposal directs DoD to withhold DoD assistance to Afghanistan in an amount equal to 150% of the illegal taxes assessed by Afghanistan on those foreign activities promoting Afghan progress, security, and stability.

Overseas Contingency Operations Funding

Chairman McKeon is concerned that many enduring requirements beyond the Afghanistan mission are being funded through the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account and called for a report on enduring requirements currently funded through OCO. The bill does not contain any specifics on war funding as Congress is still waiting for the administration’s FY15 OCO request. However, the panel rejected a $115 million request for the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization as an “unjustified request,” but moved about $65 million of those funds to the OCO account.

Institutional Reform

The Chairman’s proposal restores the Office of Net Assessment (ONA) to its independent status, with the Office reporting directly to the Secretary of Defense, and increases the ONA budget for FY15 by $10 million to $18.9 million. The bill also directs the Secretary of Defense to report on combining combatant command back office functions to achieve greater efficiencies and cost savings. The Mark would also task GAO to assess DoD’s headquarter reduction efforts, building off its previous work conducted for the committee on examining growth in DoD headquarters.

Acquisition Reform

The FY08 NDAA established the requirement for an annual inventory of services contracts, but the Department has yet to fully implement this requirement. The Chairman’s Mark encourages the Secretary to improve data collection for services contracting and conduct better analysis of the data to identify waste. GAO is tasked to report on opportunities to improve services contract processes. And the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) is directed to consider the potential for increase in program cost estimates or delays in schedule estimates in the implementation of policies, procedures, and activities related to operational test and evaluation.

Security Reform

To prevent unauthorized disclosure of classified information, the Chairman’s Mark directs the Secretary of Defense to provide the committee with frequent reports on its damage assessment resulting from these unauthorized disclosures and steps the Department is taking to mitigate the damage.

Strategy Reform

The bill requires DOD to resubmit the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) with specifying the resources required to execute the strategy at a low-to-moderate level of risk. The bill restricts 25% of OSD Policy funding until the revised QDR is submitted. Chairman McKeon and Ranking Member Smith also offered a bipartisan amendment during the markup that overhauls the QDR. The new QDR will require tradeoff analyses between missions, risks, and resources; reshape the role of the independent National Defense Panel; and require a separate Quadrennial Threats and Trends Report.

National Guard

The introduced bill did not get involved in the feud over shifting the National Guard’s Apache helicopters to the active-duty Army. However, during the full committee markup, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) offered an amendment that would freeze cuts to the Army Guard for one year while GAO studies the Army force structure (due March 2015), holds end strength for the Active Army at 490,000 and Army Guard at 350,000, and bars the Army from transferring the Guard’s Apache attack helicopters to the active service. The amendment passed by voice vote.

Asia Rebalance

Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) offered several amendments during full committee markup dealing with the pivot to the Pacific, including one reaffirming the U.S. commitment to its allies in the region.

Guantanamo Bay

The bill maintains prohibitions on the transfer of detainees from the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility to the United States and on the construction of terrorist detention facilities in the United States.

Oversight of Sensitive Military Operations Act (OSMOA)

The Chairman’s Mark withholds 25% of the funds for the Assistant Secretary for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict until the outstanding reporting elements of the OSMOA are received.

Egypt/Syria/Iran

The bill urges the President to shift to an enduring posture in the Middle East and seek status of forces agreements with Gulf Cooperation Council states. The Chairman’s Mark supports the President’s decision to deliver ten Apache helicopters to Egypt for counterterrorism operations. The proposal reflects congressional concern regarding the influx of foreign fighters in Syria and the committee’s belief that “prudent planning” to support regional allies impacted by the Syria conflict is warranted. Finally, an American presence in the Arabian Gulf is necessary to deter Iran; and any negotiations with Iran must address the military aspects of their nuclear program. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) offered an amendment during full committee markup that calls for additional restrictions on a potential nuclear deal with Iran, including that Iran cease its support of terror groups and its ballistic missile program. It was agreed to by voice vote.

Africa

The bill requires a report on the “new normal” and general mission requirements for AFRICOM, as well as a report on the readiness implications of the Army’s Regionally Aligned Brigade concept in Africa.

Europe and Russia

The bill prohibits U.S. military contact and cooperation with the Russian military until the Secretary of Defense certifies the Russian military is no longer illegally occupying Crimea, no longer acting inconsistently with the Intermediate-range Nuclear Force (INF) treaty, and is in compliance with the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is barred from transferring technology with Russia until the Secretary of Energy makes the same certifications. The Chairman’s proposal also condemns Russian aggression towards Ukraine and reaffirms the United States commitment to Article V of NATO. The Chairman requires the Secretary of Defense to develop a plan to provide assistance to the European and Eurasian militaries to enhance their defensive capabilities and posture. The Chairman’s Mark increases the budget for the DOD’s Warsaw Initiative Fund/Partnership for Peace (WIF/PfP) program from $24.4 million to $34.4 million to enable U.S. European Command, through military exercises and defense reform efforts, to build the capacity of PfP militaries in order to promote regional stability and to deter Russian aggression. It also cuts all funding for the DOD Cooperative Threat Reduction program and NNSA’s non-proliferation activities with Russia.

Proximity Encroachment

Requires DoD to study gaps and vulnerabilities in the interagency process for public property estate transactions near critical military assets, installations, and training facilities to ensure that foreign-controlled entities are not acquiring these properties with the intent to monitor activities. GAO is tasked to provide a sufficiency review of the DoD study.

Markup Changes

  • Doubled the funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system adding $175 million.
  • Authorizes funding for five Growler electronic warfare jets
  • $1 billion for maintenance and training accounts.
  • Restores the Office of Net Assessment to its independent status.
  • Blocks the Air Force from preparing to retire its U-2 spy planes.
  • Provides $120 million in funding for eight MQ-9 Reapers.
  • Added back $635 million to keep the A-10 Warthog fleet flying through FY15.
  • Blocks all funding for LCS mission modules until senior Pentagon and Navy officials deliver some assurances to lawmakers.
  • Limits the Pentagon’s ability to retire more than four E-3 airborne warning and control system aircraft.

Finally, as this is the Chairman’s final NDAA, the panel voted to name the bill after him. Rep. Thornberry (R-TX) and Rep. Smith (D-WA) offered it as the final amendment of the night. The amendment was approved, and the committee gave the retiring chairman a standing ovation.

The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) FY15 NDAA markup schedule is as follows:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

9:30 a.m. — Subcommittee on Airland. OPEN. Room SD-G50.

11:00 a.m. —Subcommittee on Seapower. CLOSED. Room SR-222.

2:00 p.m. —Subcommittee on Strategic Forces. CLOSED. Room SR-222.

3:30 p.m. —Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support. OPEN. Room SD-G50.

5:00 p.m. —Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities. OPEN. Room SD-G50.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

10:00 a.m. —Subcommittee on Personnel. OPEN. Room SD-G50.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

2:30 p.m. — 9:00 p.m. Full Committee. CLOSED. Room SR-222.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

9:30 a.m. — 9:00 p.m. [with a break for lunch] Full Committee. CLOSED. Room SR-222.

If markup is not completed on Thursday, May 22, then:

Friday, May 23, 2014

9:30 a.m. — Completion Full Committee. CLOSED. Room SR-222.

Political Updates

Bob Work was sworn in as the 32nd Deputy Secretary of Defense on Monday.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) directorate in the Department of Homeland Security named Kevin Kern as its next chief information officer (CIO). Kern replaces Thomas Michelli who moved to be the deputy CIO at the Coast Guard and is expected to replace Adm. Robert Day, the Coast Guard’s CIO when he retires this summer. Kern served as a senior vice president and CIO at Unisys and has more than 30 years of experience in global operations and technology in various industries including high technology, healthcare, financial services and manufacturing. Kern will manage ICE’s $600 million IT budget and manage its IT infrastructure and operations, which includes eight major projects. The agency’s biggest program by cost at $189 million is its IT infrastructure that covers 14 different projects, including desktop services, local area network upgrades and more. One of Kern’s main priorities will be getting its TECS modernization back on track. ICE also is expected to name a deputy CIO in the coming weeks.

Next Week

The House is in recess next week. The Senate is in session next week and will continue debate on the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill. Next on their agenda is tax extenders legislation.

Washington Weekly – May 2, 2014

May 2, 2014

The House passed the FY15 Military Construction-VA and Legislative Branch appropriations bills, as well as a bill exempting expatriate health plans from the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The House also unanimously approved by voice vote the Senate passed version of the DATA Act, a transparency measure requiring federal bodies to publish spending information in clear, standardized formats. The President is expected to sign this bill into law. The Senate failed in a vote of 54 to 42 to invoke cloture on a bill to raise the hourly minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016.

FY2015 Appropriations

The House marked up their $51.2 billion FY15 Commerce Justice Science (CJS) Appropriations bill in subcommittee this week. The bill funds the Departments of Commerce and Justice as well as NASA and other federal research agencies. This bill is a $398 million cut from the FY14 bill, which was funded at $51.6 billion. It will be marked up in full committee next week. DOJ is the big winner with a $383 million increase over FY14, followed by NASA with an increase of $250 million. The National Science Foundation also receives a record high of $7.4 million. But those increases come at a cost with the bill eliminating several existing programs and cutting funding for programs like the Community Oriented Police Services hiring grants.

The FY15 Military Construction-Veterans Affairs (MilCon-VA) and Legislative Branch spending bills were considered on the House floor this week. The $71.5 billion MilCon-VA moved under an open rule allowing House members to offer any amendments, while the $3.3 billion Legislative Branch bill moved under a structured rule limiting amendments. The House first passed the MilCon-VA bill by a vote of 416 to 1 after considering around two dozen amendments. The bill provides $165 billion in FY15 for the VA and military construction projects. One unsuccessful amendment offered by Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) would have barred funds from being used to construct, alter, or expand a facility in the US for housing Guantanamo Bay detainees. Members did approve an amendment that would prohibit funds from being used for BRAC activities.

The Legislative Branch spending bill passed by a vote of 402 to 14. The bill holds funding steady for member offices’ budgets and maintains the member pay freeze that has been in place since 2010. An amendment providing $500,000 for sexual harassment training for House offices was approved, but one cutting funding for the Capitol Visitors Center was defeated.

During the full committee markup next week, the committee is also expected to agree on the 302(b) spending allocations for the ten remaining FY15 appropriations bills. After CJS, the committee is expected to take up the Transportation-Housing and Urban Development bill next Wednesday and the Homeland Security spending bill after the mid-May recess. The Transportation-HUD spending bill is the bill that triggered the collapse of the appropriations process last year. The prospects this year for the bill are a little brighter with a bipartisan discretionary top-line figure in place and a temporary fix to the Highway Trust Fund expected this year.

The Senate continues to hold hearings on the FY15 budget and is expected to move the MilCon-VA and Legislative Branch bills in late May/early June. The MilCon-VA bill may be marked up in full committee on May 22.

Appropriations Subcommittee House Action Senate Action
Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Agencies    
Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee: April 30  
Defense    
Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies    
Financial Services and General Government    
Homeland Security    
Interior    
Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies    
Legislative Branch Subcommittee: April 3

Full Committee: April 9

Floor: May 1

 
Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Subcommittee: April 3

Full Committee: April 9

Floor: April 30

Full Committee: May 22?
State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs    
Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies Subcommittee: May 7?  

FY15 National Defense Authorization Act

The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) marked up their FY15 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in subcommittee this week. The subcommittees’ markups are being incorporated into the full committee markup, which will take place next Wednesday May 7 at 10 am. The text of the full committee markup will be released on Monday.

The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) FY15 NDAA markup schedule is as follows:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

9:30 a.m. — Subcommittee on Airland. OPEN. Room SD-G50.

11:00 a.m. —Subcommittee on Seapower. CLOSED. Room SR-222.

2:00 p.m. —Subcommittee on Strategic Forces. CLOSED. Room SR-222.

3:30 p.m. —Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support. OPEN. Room SD-G50.

5:00 p.m. —Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities. OPEN. Room SD-G50.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

10:00 a.m. —Subcommittee on Personnel. OPEN. Room SD-G50.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

2:30 p.m. — 9:00 p.m. Full Committee. CLOSED. Room SR-222.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

9:30 a.m. — 9:00 p.m. [with a break for lunch] Full Committee. CLOSED. Room SR-222.

If markup is not completed on Thursday, May 22, then:

Friday, May 23, 2014

9:30 a.m. — Completion Full Committee. CLOSED. Room SR-222.

Homeland Security

The House Homeland Security Committee marked up three bills in full committee this week: HR 4228, the DHS Acquisition Accountability and Efficiency Act; HR 4007, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Program Authorization and Accountability Act; and HR 3283, the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Modernization Act of 2013.

Cybersecurity

The Senate Intelligence Committee released a draft cybersecurity bill this week that would enable companies to share threat data with federal agencies without fear of getting sued. The new bill states that no lawsuit may be brought against a company for sharing threat data with “any other entity or the federal government” to prevent, investigate, or mitigate a cyberattack. The bill also defines cyber threat indicators (data that can be shared) as “information that indicates, describes, or is necessary to identify:

  • malicious reconnaissance, including anomalous patterns of communications that appear to be transmitted for the purpose of gathering technical information related to a cybersecurity threat;
  • a method of defeating a security control;
  • a security vulnerability;
  • a method of causing a user with legitimate access to an information system or information that is stored on, processed by, or transiting an information system to unwittingly enable the defeat of a security control;
  • malicious cyber command and control;
  • the actual or potential harm caused by an incident, including information exfiltrated when it is necessary in order to describe a cybersecurity threat;
  • any other attribute of a cybersecurity threat, if disclosure of such attribute is not otherwise prohibited by law; or
  • any combination thereof.”

The bill is prompting objections from civil liberties advocates, who argue that the legislation in its current form is too sweeping. There is no timeline right now for when the bill will be introduced. A copy of the bill can be found at:http://www.vantagepointstrat.com/?attachment_id=185.

Big Data

The White House released their “Big Data: Seizing Opportunities and Preserving Values” report today. The 3-month review was led by John Podesta with input from Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Commerce; Ernest Moniz, Secretary of Energy; John Holdren, Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy; and Jeffrey Zients, Director, National Economic Council. The 52-page report was requested by President Obama as part of his January speech on National Security Agency reform.

The report makes six policy recommendations:

  1. ADVANCE THE CONSUMER PRIVACY BILL OF RIGHTS. The Department of Commerce should take appropriate consultative steps to seek stakeholder and public comment on big data developments and how they impact the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights and then devise draft legislative text for consideration by stakeholders and submission by the President to Congress.
  2. PASS NATIONAL DATA BREACH LEGISLATION. Congress should pass legislation that provides for a single national data breach standard along the lines of the Administration?s May 2011 Cybersecurity legislative proposal.
  3. EXTEND PRIVACY PROTECTIONS TO NON-U.S. PERSONS. The Office of Management and Budget should work with departments and agencies to apply the Privacy Act of 1974 to non-U.S. persons where practicable, or to establish alternative privacy policies that apply appropriate and meaningful protections to personal information regardless of a person?s nationality.
  4. ENSURE DATA COLLECTED ON STUDENTS IN SCHOOL IS USED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES. The federal government must ensure that privacy regulations protect students against having their data being shared or used inappropriately, especially when the data is gathered in an educational context.
  5. EXPAND TECHNICAL EXPERTISE TO STOP DISCRIMINATION. The federal government?s lead civil rights and consumer protection agencies should expand their technical expertise to be able to identify practices and outcomes facilitated by big data analytics that have a discriminatory impact on protected classes, and develop a plan for investigating and resolving violations of law.
  6. AMEND THE ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS PRIVACY ACT. Congress should amend ECPA to ensure the standard of protection for online, digital content is consistent with that afforded in the physical world?including by removing archaic distinctions between email left unread or over a certain age.

A copy of the report can be found at:http://www.vantagepointstrat.com/?attachment_id=186.

Political Updates

The Senate confirmed by voice vote Robert Work as Deputy Secretary of Defense. Work was most recently CEO of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Prior to CNAS, Work was the Under Secretary of the Navy and had a 27-year career as an officer in the US Marine Corps. Christine Fox has been serving as Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense during the transition.

Defense Department Chief Information Officer Teri Takai announced this week that she is stepping down. Her last day is today. A successor has not yet been named and there is some speculation that the administration may not pick a successor instead leaving the Defense CIO position in the hands of Senior Executive Service level staff until the end of President Obama’s second term. Takai became the Defense CIO in 2010.

The White House nominated Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s chief of staff, Mark Lippert to become the next U.S. ambassador to South Korea. Before working in Hagel’s office, Lippert was the assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs from 2011 to 2012. Lippert was also an intelligence officer for Naval Special Operations Forces and a senior foreign policy adviser in Barack Obama’s Senate office and in his 2008 presidential campaign.

At the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), agency director LTG Michael Flynn and his deputy, David Shedd, announced this week that they will depart the agency and retire by early Fall 2014.  LTG Flynn has served as the DIA Director since July 2012, while Shedd joined the agency as deputy director in August 2010. LTG Flynn is expected to be replaced by US Army Lt. Gen. Mary Legere, who would be the first female DIA director if she is nominated and confirmed.

Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) was indicted earlier this week on 20 criminal charges including mail and wire fraud, filing false tax returns and health care payments, hiring undocumented workers, perjury, and obstruction of justice. While Grimm has denied any wrongdoing, he is vacating his House Financial Services Committee seat. Grimm will remain on the ballot for the November elections.

Rep. Vance McAllister (R-LA) announced this week that he would not seek re-election in 2014. While House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) suggested to McAllister that he resign, McAllister said that he would not leave office before his term was finished.

Next Week

The House will take up HR 4438, the American Research and Competitiveness Act of 2014; HR 10, the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act; and a privileged resolution finding former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusal to comply with the subpoena issued by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The Senate will take up S. 2262, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, with a separate vote on the Keystone XL pipeline as a possibility.