Washington Weekly – June 27, 2014

June 27, 2014

The House passed HR 4413, the Customer Protection and End User Relief Act, a bill reauthorizing the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, as well as three energy bills: HR 6, the Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act; HR 3301, the North American Energy Infrastructure Act; and HR 4899, the Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America that Works Act. The Senate passed HR 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, overhauling and reauthorizing the 1998 Workforce Investment Act(PL 105-220), which expired in 2003. The bill passed by a vote of 95 to 3.

FY2015 Appropriations

After having to pull the three-bill minibus from the Senate floor last week due to a stalemate over amendments, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) is considering a new strategy in order to have a chance to move the 12 FY15 spending bills before Oct. 1 to avoid a continuing resolution (CR). Mikulski may pair up the bills differently to keep them going, such as adding the popular $71.9 billion Military Construction/Veterans Affairs bill to this minibus. Others are recommending that she bring the non-controversial bills to the floor as single bills eliminating the hurdle of getting unanimous consent to combine multiple measures into one legislative vehicle. While Mikulski hasn’t agreed to this single bill strategy, she is considering offering the FY15 Military Construction/Veterans Affairs bill as a stand-alone measure. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), Ranking Republican on the committee predicted a CR through Nov 15.

On the House side, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers’ (R-KY) timeline for passage has also slipped. Rogers originally wanted all bills passed on the House floor before the August recess. He is now saying his goal is to have them all passed out of committee before the recess. Floor consideration of the House spending bills slowed after Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) lost his primary race and set off a Republican leadership shake-up. While there was some talk about returning to the FY15 Agriculture spending bill that was set aside when Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) lost his primary election, House leaders are now saying that they will turn to the FY15 Energy and Water spending bill when they return from the July 4th recess.

House

Financial Services

The House Appropriations full committee approved their $21.3 billion FY15 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill this week and reported it out of committee by a vote of 28 to 21. The bill provides annual funding for the Treasury Department, the Judiciary, the Small Business Administration, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and several other agencies. The bill is $566 million below the FY14 enacted level and $2.3 billion below the President’s FY15 budget request.

While the bill does not include a pay raise for federal workers in FY15, it also does not specifically prohibit one. If enacted, this would allow the president to determine a pay raise based on the Employment Cost Index. The bill does prohibit pay raises for senior political appointees. The president had recommended a 1% pay raise for federal workers in his FY15 budget request.

Six amendments were adopted during full committee markup: a manager’s amendment and amendments requiring the postal service to deliver mail six days a week, prohibiting funding in the bill to require the disclosure of private email information by ISPs without a criminal warrant, prohibiting the District of Columbia from using local funds for the decriminalization of marijuana, altering the Dodd Frank law in order with respect to safe swap activities, and prohibiting funding for abortions through OPM-negotiated “multi-state qualified health plans” offered under Obamacare.

House appropriators also used the bill as an opportunity to express their concern that the FCC is “overstepping its jurisdiction” by getting involved in cybersecurity and that it “believes the FCC should be concerned with things that are strictly within its jurisdiction and not attempt regulatory overreach.” This cautionary report language follows a letter sent by Reps. Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Mike Pompeo (R-KS) earlier this month in response to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s speech at AEI, in which he unveiled a new cybersecurity approach for the nation’s communications networks and warned communication companies to take cybersecurity more seriously if they want to avoid new regulations on their networks.

State Foreign Operations

The full House Appropriations Committee marked up its $48.3 billion FY15 State Foreign Operations bill this week. The bill is $707.6 million less than the FY14 enacted level and $276.5 million less than the president’s FY15 budget request. Within this amount, Overseas Contingency Operations are funded at $5.9 billion for supporting operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, as well as stabilization and humanitarian efforts in areas of conflict around the globe. The bill required the administration to provide a detailed strategy for assistance to Egypt while providing $1.3 billion in military aid and $250 million in economic aid to the country. Appropriators also provided $1 billion for Iraq.

Four amendments were passed during the full committee markup: a manager’s amendment and amendments adding language related to health care coverage covering abortion costs for Peace Corps volunteers who become pregnant as a result of rape or whose lives would be endangered by the pregnancy, renaming a street in DC after Nobel Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, and encouraging USAID to provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, with emphasis on agricultural assistance to rural women. The committee rejected efforts by Democrats to scale back military aid for Egypt and to boost funds for reproductive health.

Senate

Financial Services

The Senate Financial Services Appropriations subcommittee marked up its $22.673 billion FY15 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill. The bill provides $607 million more than the FY14 enacted level and $1.1 billion less than the President’s FY15 budget request. A full committee markup for the bill has not been scheduled and may not happen anytime soon.

Homeland Security

The Senate marked up their $39.2 billion FY15 Department of Homeland Security spending bill in subcommittee and full committee this week and approved it by voice vote. The bill provides $643 million more than the FY14 enacted level, but $220 million less than the House version. Under the legislation, ICE would receive $5.5 billion, which is $149 million above the president’s request and $106 million below FY14; CBP would get $12.6 billion, coming in $18 million below the budget request and $480 million above FY14 enacted levels, and the Coast Guard would receive $8.6 billion. The bill also includes $213 million for Coast Guard OCO funding and $6.4 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Act (FEMA) Disaster Relief Fund. The committee directed more funding than the House for the Coast Guard and Transportation Security Administration as DHS Appropriations subcommittee chairman Mary Landrieu (D-LA) said that she disagreed with the president’s deep cuts to the Coast Guard in his FY15 budget request. The bill allocates nearly $11 million more than the administration’s FY15 request for cybersecurity. Of the $1.213 billion allocated to the National Protection and Programs Directorate’s Infrastructure Protection and Information Security Program, $757 million is included for cybersecurity protection of federal networks and incident response, $10.9 million more than what was requested and more than what was allocated in the House-passed version. Like the House, Senate appropriators directed more funding than the President requested for the child migration crisis along the southern U.S. border. They proposed a $2 hike in customs fees to fund additional Customs and Border Protection officers and called for an extra 1,000 immigration detention beds, as well as a new center that would enable immigrant families to stay together during detention. During the full committee markup, the committee adopted a manager’s package that included provisions requiring DHS to report on how well it is working to keep families of illegal immigrants in detention facilities that are not run by CBP or ICE, directing DHS to detail to Congress any times its drones have crashed, and requiring DHS to report on the Coast Guard’s work in the last three years responding to oil discharges in the Gulf of Mexico. They also passed an amendment offered by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) that would treat Presidential fire disaster declarations and disaster declarations the same way only in this fiscal year giving FEMA more flexibility in FY15 to cover the costs of preventing future wildfires in areas stricken by disaster.

Overseas Contingency Operations

The White House submitted its $65.8B FY15 Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) budget request to Congress this week. The request includes $58.6B for DOD OCO ($20.9B less than the $79.4B placeholder submitted in March) and $1.4B for State/OIP. In addition to funding for the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan and DOD’s supporting presence in the broader region, the OCO submission seeks congressional support for the new $5 billion Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund (CTPF) and $1 billion for the European Reassurance Initiative (ERI). The Administration indicated earlier this year that they want to expand the scope of the OCO fund requesting funding for worldwide counterterrorism and European security efforts.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) was not pleased yesterday that he read about the Administration’s OCO budget request in the news prior to receiving the details himself. In a press release, McKeon said that his committee would have a number of questions for the administration after they have received the budget request on equipment reset funding levels and how the new counterterrorism fund differs from existing initiatives.

The Senate Defense Appropriations subcommittee will mark up their FY15 Defense spending bill in subcommittee on July 17 and could work quickly over the next few weeks to draft the OCO section. The House has already passed their FY15 Defense spending bill and may wait until conference to sort out the OCO section with the Senate. On the authorizing side, the HASC’s FY15 NDAA passed the full House but the SASC’s FY15 bill is awaiting floor action. The Senate could do a floor amendment to make their adjustments if/when they take their bill to the Senate floor. And then HASC would wait to work it out in conference. In the meantime, HASC does plan on holding hearings and requesting administration officials to testify.

A copy of the FY15 OCO Budget Request can be found at:

http://www.vantagepointstrat.com/?p=215

FY2015 Appropriations Bill Status

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

Full Committee: May 29

Floor: postponed

Subcommittee: May 20

Full Committee: May 22

Floor: postponed

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

Full Committee: May 8

House Floor: May 29

Subcommittee: June 3

Full Committee: June 5

Floor: postponed

Defense Subcommittee: May 30

Full Committee: June 10

Floor: June 20

Subcommittee: July 17
Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee: June 10

Full Committee: June 18

House Floor: Week of July 7

Subcommittee: June 17

Full Committee: postponed

Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee: June 18

Full Committee: June 25

Subcommittee: June 24
Homeland Security Subcommittee: May 28

Full Committee: June 11

Subcommittee: June 24

Full Committee: June 26

Interior    
Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies   Subcommittee: June 10

Full Committee: postponed

Legislative Branch Subcommittee: April 3

Full Committee: April 9

Floor: May 1

Full Committee: June 19
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 Subcommittee: June 17

Full Committee: June 24

Subcommittee: June 17

Full Committee: June 19

Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies Subcommittee: May 7

Full Committee: May 21

Floor: June 10

Subcommittee: June 3

Full Committee: June 5

Floor: postponed

Homeland Security

The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee marked up and reported out of committee a number of bills this week.

S 2521 Federal Information Security Modernization Act (FISMA) of 2014

The FISMA of 2014 updates the FISMA of 2002 and better delineates the roles and responsibilities of OMB and DHS. It also empowers DHS to issue “binding operational directives” containing requirements for the mitigation of exigent risks and incident reporting, and moves the agencies away from paperwork-heavy processes toward real-time and automated security. The bill passed by voice vote.

S 2519 National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) Act of 2014

The NCCIC Act of 2014 formally codifies the 24-hour cybersecurity and communications operations center within DHS, and calls on the center to serve as the federal civilian information sharing interface for cybersecurity information and analysis, incidence response, and recommendations for security measures to improve cybersecurity. Sen. Johnson (R-WI) offered an amendment to not grant additional regulatory or rulemaking authority to DHS. The amendment passed by voice vote with 2 no votes. Sen. Landrieu (D-LA) expressed concern about the NCCIC and other cybersecurity assets all being located “inside the beltway” in Washington, DC stating that we are vulnerable if DC is targeted. While her concern was noted, no amendment was offered. The bill passed by voice vote.

While Senate HSGAC Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) was pleased with the committee’s progress on this cybersecurity legislation, he said that they still have more work to do including further clarifying DHS’ role in working with the private sector on cybersecurity matters including specifying the rules for the road for DHS interacting with private critical infrastructure. Carper also called for updating the 2002 DHS act to clarify who is responsible in DHS for cybersecurity, continuing to improve R&D for cybersecurity, and the need to codify the EINSTEIN program.

S 1691 Border Patrol Agent Pay Reform Act of 2013

The committee passed S 1691 the Border Patrol Agent Pay Reform Act of 2013 by a vote of 9 to 0. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) offered an amendment in the nature of a substitute that would allow the border patrol to classify jobs within three pay schedule options that allow for 20 hours of overtime, 10 hours of overtime, or no overtime per two-week period. The bill also requires CBP to assess its staffing needs at every post along the border and estimate the funding needed to fulfill those needs. GAO would oversee those assessments. Sen. Coburn (R-OK) offered an amendment that would make a Border Patrol Agent ineligible for overtime if 50% or more of their time is being used in an official capacity for union activities. The amendment failed in a vote of 6 to 9. Coburn offered another amendment requiring that Border Patrol agents that are not in the field receive the basic pay rate. Tester modified the amendment with a second degree amendment that they would start with the Coburn approach, but if CBP determined that more hours were needed than the 80 hour work cap would be lifted. The modified amendment passed by voice vote.

HR 1232 Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act

The committee also passed HR 1232, the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, in which Sen. Coburn offered an amendment in the nature of a substitute as base text. The bill empowers CIOs at 24 key agencies to be responsible and accountable for how the agency acquires its IT systems and programs; codifies the government-wide IT dashboard which publicly shows the metrics for IT; codifies the PortfolioStat process OMB put in place a few years ago; and includes the language included in S 1611 to ensure that the administration’s data center consolidation is seen through to its conclusion. The bill was passed by voice vote.

S 2061 Preventing Conflicts of Interest with Contractors Act

The committee also passed S 2061, the Preventing Conflicts of Interest with Contractors Act, which is intended to prevent contractors from reviewing their own work for background checks. Sen. Coburn said he had some problems with the bill so he opposed it but promised to work with Sen. Tester to improve the bill before floor consideration.

S 1347 the Conference Accountability Act of 2013

Action on S 1347 the Conference Accountability Act of 2013 was postponed as Sen. Levin (D-MI) asked the committee to wait to have more debate on the measure and get comments from OMB before marking it up.

Cybersecurity

The Senate Intelligence Committee cancelled the tentative markup of their Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) this week. The markup was postponed until sometime after July 4th recess citing that too many members’ travel schedules would have conflicted with a markup. Committee members are hopeful that it might come up the week of July 7. The draft CISA bill has drawn criticism from both industry groups and privacy advocates. The ACLU, CDT, EFF, and others sent a letter to senators on Thursday stating concerns that the bill would create a loophole in privacy law allowing the government to ask companies to voluntarily turn over customer information, which could then be used in criminal investigations. They also argue that the bill is a threat to whistleblowers and lacks adequate transparency measures.

A copy of the bill can be found at:

http://www.vantagepointstrat.com/?p=213

Contractor Compensation

The Department of Defense, General Services Administration, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration published an interim rule in the Federal Register this week on the limitation on allowable government contractor compensation costs. The rule amends the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to implement section 702 of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. Section 702 of the law set the initial limitation on allowable contractor and subcontractor employee compensation costs at $487,000 per year, which will be adjusted annually to reflect the change in the Employment Cost Index for all workers as calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The interim rule also implements the possible exception to this allowable cost limit for scientists, engineers, or other specialists if such exceptions are needed to ensure that the executive agency has continued access to needed skills and capabilities. Interested parties can submit written comments on the interim rule to he Regulatory Secretariat on or before August 25, 2014 to be considered in the formulation of a final rule.

FY14 Intelligence Authorization

The House agreed to a Senate-passed FY14 Intelligence Authorization Act (S 1681) in a voice vote Tuesday night sending the bill to the President for his signature. The bill funds major cyber priorities authorizing funding for cyber-defense priorities and NSA surveillance of foreign intelligence. It also mandates ramped up insider threat detection to spot intelligence leakers such as former contractor Edward Snowden and requires the Director of National Intelligence to study the possibility of replacing manual security clearances with continuous evaluation procedures that would monitor employees and contractors’ public and government records to spot suspicious behavior. The bill also gives the DNI six months to deliver a report describing any critical gaps in education and workforce training in cybersecurity and other technology fields. The House and Senate have yet to agree on an FY15 intelligence authorization bill.

Political Updates

While Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), Ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee trailed his primary challenger Chris McDaniel in a primary earlier this month, Cochran was able to garner the necessary 51% of the vote to avoid another runoff. If Republicans take over the Senate next year, Cochran would be in line to reclaim chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), member of the House Ways and Means Committee, also survived a primary challenge this week in a rematch with state Sen. Adriano Espaillat. Rangel beat Espaillat 47% to 44% and appears to be on his way to winning his 23rd term in Congress in November.

In the Republican primary in Oklahoma’s special election to replace Tom Coburn, Republican Rep. James Lankford won the nomination amid a crowded GOP field. Lankford beat Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon and captured 56% of the vote to avoid a runoff in August. Lankford is expected to cruise to a victory in the deep-red state’s general election this fall.

The Senate Budget and Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committees approved the nomination of Shaun Donovan to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget by a vote of 9 to 1. Donovan is currently serving as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. The full Senate is expected to vote on the nomination when they return from their July 4 recess.

The Senate confirmed Leon Rodriguez to be Director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services at the Department of Homeland Security by a vote of 53 to 43 this week. The Senate also approved the nominations of Jessica Garfola Wright to be Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness and Jamie Michael Morin to be Director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation.

The Republic National Committee announced this week that Cleveland and Dallas are the two finalists to host the 2016 Republican National Convention. A selection committee voted Wednesday to eliminate Denver and Kansas City from contention after visiting all four cities. Democrats are in the earlier stages of choosing the location of their convention. Six cities submitted bids prior to this month’s deadline: Birmingham, AL.; Cleveland, OH; Columbus, OH; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; and Phoenix, AZ.

The Pentagon’s top procurement policy official, Richard Ginman, is retiring after a 40-year-career that spanned both the private and public sectors. Grinnan is a retired Navy rear admiral who became DoD’s director for defense procurement and acquisition policy in 2011, when DoD decided to split the office into two divisions. Before that, Ginman was DoD’s deputy director for contingency and acquisition policy after having served in several high-level civilian acquisition leadership roles within the Navy.

Former Senate Majority Leader and Chief of Staff to President Ronald Reagan Howard Baker (R-TN) died yesterday. Baker was first elected to the Senate in 1966 and retired in 1984 returning to practicing law in Tennessee.

Next Week

The House and Senate are in recess next week.

28 Days Left…What Gets Done?

As we head into the July 4th recess with only 28 days of session left on the congressional calendar before the November elections, the question is what legislation will get passed this year?

12 FY15 Appropriations Bills or a Continuing Resolution

FY15 National Defense Authorization Act

Veterans Affairs Reform

Cybersecurity – CISPA and CISA

NSA Reform

Data Breach Notifications

FISMA

NCCIC

Workforce Bills

Ambassadorial Nominations

Immigration Reform

Washington Weekly – June 20, 2014

June 20, 2014

The House passed the FY15 Defense Appropriations bill. The Senate approved a number of judicial nominations and passed the Omnibus Territories Act of 2013 (S 1237). The Senate also began consideration of the FY15 Commerce-Justice-Science, Transportation HUD, and Agriculture “minibus” appropriations spending bill, but pulled it when they could not reach agreement on amendments.

FY2015 Appropriations

House

Defense

The House completed action on its fifth FY15 appropriations bill this week passing the FY15 Defense spending bill by a vote of 340 to 73. The $570.4 bill was considered under an open rule allowing any member to offer germane amendments. While there was no limit on the number of amendments (over 70 were offered), there was a 10-minute limit on the time to debate each one.

Several amendments were accepted including blocking the retirement of the A-10 Warthog aircraft, prohibiting the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to foreign countries, shifting $5 million from Army Guard personnel accounts to O&M accounts to station soldiers along the southwest border, and barring the NSA from using funds to gain “backdoor” access to Americans’ information. The House rejected amendments to increase funding for Pentagon drug interdiction and counternarcotics activities, allow the Air Force to retire intercontinental ballistic missiles, and prohibit funds for US combat operations in Iraq.

In a Statement of Administration Policy issued this week, the White House raised multiple concerns with the bill but stopped short of a veto threat. The Administration objected to rejection of some of the administration’s cost-cutting proposals for the Department of Defense, restrictions on Guantanamo Bay detainee transfers, and plans to begin developing a domestic rocket engine to replace the Russian-made engines used on some United Launch Alliance rockets.

The bill included a placeholder of $79.4 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) because the White House has not yet submitted a detailed war budget request to Congress. At a Senate Defense Appropriations subcommittee hearing this week, Defense Secretary Hagel said that they would soon propose an OCO budget for FY15. The budget may be sent to Congress just before both chambers leave for the July 4th recess. Hagel said that the FY15 OCO budget will cover costs related to Afghanistan and other operations as well as other costs related to CENTCOM operations in the Mideast. In addition, it will include up to $5 billion for a Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund and $1 billion for the European Reassurance Initiative.

Energy & Water

The House Appropriations Committee marked up their $34 billion FY15 Energy & Water spending bill in full committee this week and considered several amendments on hot-button issues. The committee rejected an amendment to strike language weakening the EPA waters rules in the bill. They adopted an amendment allowing individuals to carry firearms on Army Corps of Engineers lands. The committee also adopted amendments prohibiting funds to be used for DOE regulations on ceiling fans and adding report language clarifying a provision in the bill to protect pension plan contributions by the NNSA. The legislation provides annual funding for national defense nuclear weapons activities, the Army Corps of Engineers, various programs under the Department of Energy (DOE), and other related agencies. The bill is $50 million less than the FY14 enacted level and $327 million above the President’s FY15 request.

Financial Services

The House Financial Services Appropriations subcommittee marked up its $21.3 billion FY15 spending bill this week and approved it by voice vote. The bill provides annual funding for the Treasury Department, the Judiciary, the Small Business Administration, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and several other agencies. The bill is $566 million below the FY14 enacted level and $2.3 billion below the President’s request for FY15. The bill covers agencies implementing the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul, as well as parts of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) making it a potential lightening rod for controversial amendments when it is marked up in full committee next week. In the subcommittee’s bill, the IRS would receive $10.95 billion a 3%, or $341 million, reduction from its FY14 enacted level and $1.5 billion, or 12%, below the president’s FY15 budget request. The SEC would receive $1.4 billion for FY15 under the measure, an increase of $50 million from FY14 but $300 million below the president’s FY15 request.

State Foreign Operations

The State Foreign Operations Appropriations subcommittee marked up its $48.3 billion FY15 spending bill this week and approved it by voice vote. The bill is $708 million below the FY14 enacted level and $277 million below the president’s FY15 request. Within the $48.3 billion, OCO is funded at $5.9 billion and will support operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, as well as stabilization and humanitarian efforts in areas of conflict around the globe. The bill gives priority to funding embassy security, aid to refugees, international security assistance and programs to promote democracy in Ukraine, the Middle East and Latin America. It seeks to reinstate the Mexico City policy that blocks aid to overseas agencies that promote or perform abortions, along with proposing other long-standing riders aimed at further defunding abortion and limiting family planning programs. And, it blocks foreign aid to any countries housing Guantanamo detainees unless the administration briefs Congress on the terms of any transfer agreement prior to implementation. The bill is likely to be a partisan battleground over international aid programs and dues payments to the United Nations when it is marked up in full committee next week.

House Appropriations Committee Next Week

The House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to consider the FY15 Financial Services and FY15 State Foreign Operations spending bills in full committee next week.

House Floor

House leaders have not decided which spending bill will be next considered on the House floor. They could return to the $20.9 FY15 Agriculture spending bill that was pulled from the floor last week after Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) lost his primary and Republican leaders shifted their focus to election of a new Majority Leader. Another option is to take up the FY15 Energy and Water spending bill, which would give Republicans the opportunity to offer amendments to block the new EPA carbon emission rules.

Senate

Commerce-Justice-Science, Transportation HUD, and Agriculture

The Senate began consideration of their first FY15 spending bills on the Senate floor this week with a minibus containing the FY15 CJS, Transportation HUD, and Agriculture spending bills. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) had to pull the $126.2 billion measure from the floor after Republicans and Democrats could not reach agreement on amendments. Democrats were insisting that amendments require 60 votes to be adopted. Given the vast scope of the bill, it attracted amendments on topics including commercial use of drones, Guantanamo Bay prisoner transfers, school nutrition standards, trucker safety, alternative fuel vehicles, and court-appointed advocates for children. While all three bills passed out of committee with bipartisan support and consideration of the minibus bill got off to a good start earlier in the week with the Senate voting to invoke cloture by a roll call vote of 95 to 3, it is now unclear if the Senate will be able to complete action on the minibus bill.

Energy & Water

The Senate Energy & Water Appropriations Subcommittee marked up its $34.2 billion FY15 spending bill in subcommittee this week. The bill provides an increase of $148 million above the FY14 enacted level and an increase of $525 million above the President’s FY15 request level.

The bill was scheduled to be marked up in full committee on Thursday, but the mark up was postponed after Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) indicated that he would offer an amendment that would effectively block the EPA’s recently announced carbon standards for existing power plants unless the administration confirms it won’t increase electricity costs or kill jobs. The amendment has a chance of prevailing given the breakdown of Democrats on the full committee; especially those who are facing tough reelection bids this year. The White House threatened to veto the measure if the amendment was included so Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) postponed full committee action.

Legislative Branch

The Senate Appropriations Committee met this week to mark up the non-controversial FY15 Legislative Branch spending bill. The bill marked up in the full committee would provide $4.3 billion for Senate operations and joint legislative branch agencies. Senate appropriators provided $42 million more than FY14 and $165 million less than the president’s FY15 budget request. GAO would receive $525.5 million under the Senate bill, a $20.1 million increase over FY14. CBO would get $46 million, a $360,000 increase from FY14 and $700,000 more than the House provided. The bill also provides the Architect of the Capitol with $600 million — a $2 million drop from current levels and $76.6 million below what was requested. It would, however, fully fund the fourth and final phase of the Capitol Dome restoration.

State Foreign Operations

The Senate Appropriations Committee marked up their $48.285 billion FY15 State Foreign Operations spending bill in subcommittee and full committee this week. Of this amount, $8.625 billion is for OCO in the frontline states of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq as well as other areas in political transition (Middle East and North Africa), and to respond to humanitarian emergencies (Syria, Somalia, South Sudan). The bill is $285 million below the President’s FY15 budget request and $716 million below the FY14 enacted level. Like the House bill, it provides $100 million in economic and security assistance to Ukraine and other former Soviet republics to counter Russian aggression. The committee also lifted the restriction on aid to foreign nongovernmental organizations that use non-US funds to counsel or perform abortions (the Mexico City policy). The House bill maintains the restriction. The Senate measure would provide Egypt with $1.15 billion in military and economic aid and $201 million for the United Nations Clean Technology Fund and the organization’s Strategic Climate Fund.

Labor HHS Education

Last week Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) cancelled a scheduled full committee markup of the FY15 Labor HHS Education spending bill. While committee Democrats blame scheduling blame, others have said that the markup was delayed because of concerns over potential controversial amendments, including those related to the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). The subcommittee had approved the bill earlier in the week.

Senate Appropriations Committee Next Week

The Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to consider the FY15 Department of Homeland Security and FY15 Financial Services spending bills in subcommittee next Tuesday.

FY2015 Appropriations Bill Status

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

Full Committee: May 29

Floor: postponed

Subcommittee: May 20

Full Committee: May 22

Floor: postponed

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

Full Committee: May 8

House Floor: May 29

Subcommittee: June 3

Full Committee: June 5

Floor: postponed

Defense Subcommittee: May 30

Full Committee: June 10

Floor: June 20

Subcommittee: Week of July 7
Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee: June 10

Full Committee: June 18

Subcommittee: June 17

Full Committee: postponed

Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee: June 18

Full Committee: June 25

Subcommittee: June 24
Homeland Security Subcommittee: May 28

Full Committee: June 11

Subcommittee: June 24
Interior    
Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies   Subcommittee: June 10

Full Committee: postponed

Legislative Branch Subcommittee: April 3

Full Committee: April 9

Floor: May 1

Full Committee: June 19
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 Subcommittee: June 17

Full Committee: June 24

Subcommittee: June 17

Full Committee: June 19

Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies Subcommittee: May 7

Full Committee: May 21

Floor: June 10

Subcommittee: June 3

Full Committee: June 5

Floor: postponed

Veterans’ Access to Care

The House and Senate appointed conferees to HR 3230, the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014. The conferees are charged with reaching agreement on VA accountability and emergency care measures.

Senate conferees include: Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Patty Murray (D-WA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jon Tester (D-MT), Mark Begich (D-AK), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Richard Burr (R-NC), Isakson (R-GA), Johanns (R-NE), McCain (R-AZ), Coburn (R-OK), and Rubio (R-FL).

House conferees include: Reps. Jeff Miller (R-FL), chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Phil Roe (R-TN), Bill Flores (R-TX), Dan Benishek (R-MI), Mike Coffman (R-CO), Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Mike Michaud (D-ME), Corrine Brown (D-FL), Mark Takano (D-CA), Julia Brownley (D-CA), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), and Tim Walz (D-MN).

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released an estimate of the House version of the bill this week saying that the measure could eventually cost $54 billion a year if fully implemented. In comparison, the Senate version would cost $50 billion a year. Neither bill is fully offset. These new cost estimates could complicate the conference negotiation process.

Cybersecurity

Senate Intelligence Committee Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act

Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and ranking member Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) released a draft cybersecurity bill, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, on Tuesday. The committee is expected to vote on the bill next week.

The bill makes it easier for companies to share information on a voluntary basis about cyber threats and cyber countermeasures by removing legal barriers, while also offering liability protection to companies that participate in the information sharing program. It authorizes and provides liability protection for companies to monitor their networks. And, it directs the federal government to share information with the private sector at the classified and unclassified levels, consistent with protections of sources and methods.

The bill also attempts to provide protections to prevent privacy intrusions by requiring companies sharing cyber information to remove personally identifying information before sharing it with the government, and requiring that any information shared with the government in real time be given to the Department of Homeland Security. The Attorney General would be required to write procedures to limit the government’s use of cyber information to appropriate cyber purposes and to ensure privacy protections are in place. And, the bill would require reports by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board and relevant federal agency inspectors general.

While the senators included provisions aimed at easing the concerns of privacy advocates, they haven’t won them over yet. The ACLU is concerned that shared information could be used for criminal investigations, including leaks of national security information. They are also concerned that the NSA and other intelligence agencies could gain access to the data.

A copy of the bill can be found at:

http://www.vantagepointstrat.com/?p=213

FCC and Cybersecurity

In response to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s speech at the American Enterprise Institute last week where he unveiled a new cybersecurity paradigm for the nation’s communications networks and warned communication companies to take cybersecurity more seriously if they want to avoid new regulations on their networks, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) sent a letter to Wheeler this week. In the letter, Rogers and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) expressed concerns that the FCC may be preparing to implement a new regulatory scheme that would significantly affect ISPs and other web service providers. They warned Wheeler that the private sector should lead the charge against cyber threats and prescriptive regulations would only get in the way. They also raised objections to the cybersecurity provisions in the FCC’s FY15 budget request, which included substantial funding increases for cybersecurity activities, including funding for “Big Data Cybersecurity Analytics and a Cybersecurity Metrics” program.

A copy of the letter can be found at:

http://www.vantagepointstrat.com/?p=214

Political Updates

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was elected by his Republican colleagues yesterday as the new House Majority Leader replacing Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) who unexpectedly lost his primary for reelection earlier this month. Cantor will step down on July 31. McCarthy beat out Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) for the leadership position. McCarthy’s ascension in rank opened up his current position as Majority Whip. Three Republicans were vying for the position: Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), and Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN). Scalise, Chairman of the Republican Study Conference, won the Majority Whip position on the first ballot.

The Transportation Security Administration announced this week that Melvin Carraway will become deputy administrator July 13. He replaces Deputy Administrator John Halinski, who is retiring. Carraway currently serves as TSA supervisory federal air marshal in charge, Dallas field office.

The Department of Homeland Security’s chief procurement officer, Nick Nayak, plans to resign next month after three-and-a-half years on the job. His replacement hasn’t been chosen. During his tenure, Nayak oversaw the award of a number of major contracting vehicles, including the $11 billion Technical, Acquisition and Business Support Services contract, the $3 billion Tactical Communications contract, the $3 billion FirstSource II contract, and Eagle II. Nayak will take some time off before exploring opportunities with the private sector.

Christine Wormuth was confirmed by voice vote to be Under Secretary of Defense in the full Senate this week.

In a memo to agency staff yesterday, Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Poneman announced that he would be leaving the department this fall and heading to Harvard University, where he earned his bachelor’s and law degrees.

President Obama announced his intention to nominate Carolyn Watts Colvin as Commissioner of Social Security today. Colvin is currently Deputy Commissioner of Social Security for the Social Security Administration (SSA), a position she has held since January 2011.  She has also served as Acting Commissioner of Social Security since February 2013.  Previously, she has served as the Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund and the Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund, Special Assistant to the Secretary of Transportation for Maryland, Chief Executive Officer of Amerigroup Community Care of DC, Director of the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, and Director of the District of Columbia Department of Health and Human.

Next Week

The House will consider HR 4413, the Customer Protection and End User Relief Act as well as three energy bills: HR 6, the Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act; HR 3301, the North American Energy Infrastructure Act; and HR 4899, the Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America that Works Act. The Senate schedule for next week is unclear at this time as Senate leaders had set aside time to finish consideration of the FY15 CJS, THUD, Agriculture minibus appropriations bill. They may take up S 2363, the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act.

Washington Weekly – June 13, 2014

June 13, 2014

The House passed a NASA reauthorization bill (HR 4412), the FY15 Transportation HUD Appropriations bill (HR 4745), two tax extender bills (HR 4453 and HR 4457), and a bill directing the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to enter into contracts for the provision of hospital care and medical services at non-Department of Veterans Affairs facilities for VA patients with extended waiting times (HR 4810). The House began consideration of the FY15 Agriculture Appropriations bill, but unexpectedly pulled it from the floor after members voted on a series of amendments. The bill may return to the floor the week of June 23. The Senate began consideration of the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act (S 2432), but the motion to invoke cloture was not agreed to by a vote of 56 to 38. The Senate was able to pass a bill (HR 3230/S 2450) to improve the access of veterans to medical services by a vote of 93 to 3 as well as an FY14 Intelligence Authorization bill (S 1681), which passed by voice vote. The VA reform bills in the House and Senate are similar and members of Congress expect that they will be able to quickly iron out their differences to send a bill to the President for his signature. Conservatives may push to find an offset for the bill after CBO released its cost estimates this week.

FY2015 Appropriations

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) unexpected primary loss this week slowed floor momentum and caused House leaders to pull the FY15 Agriculture spending bill from the floor after several amendments had been offered and voted on. The fate of the remaining FY15 spending bills is questionable, as the House will focus on leadership elections next week. Conservatives may feel emboldened by Cantor’s defeat and hopeful for Republican majorities in the House and Senate in 2015. They may push to delay all spending bills and seek a continuing resolution delaying all spending decisions until they have control over both houses of Congress. There are less than 25 legislative days left before the August recess, so the goal of passing all 12 spending bills before then is looking less and less likely. The Senate is expected to take up a minibus appropriations bill on the floor next week containing the FY15 Commerce, Justice, Science; Transportation HUD; and Agriculture spending bills. Sen. Mikulski (D-MD) has said that members will be allowed to offer amendments to the minibus measure. The House may take up the FY15 Defense appropriations bill on the floor next week.

House

The $52 billion FY15 Transportation HUD bill was on the House floor this week. The House Appropriations Committee marked up their $491 billion FY15 Defense and $39.2 billion FY15 Homeland Security appropriations bills in full committee this week, and the FY15 Energy & Water bill in subcommittee. The panel also approved technical revisions to their FY15 spending allocations, otherwise known as 302(b)s, agreeing to changing the spending limits by voice vote. The changes shift $18 million to the Labor HHS and Financial Services bills from the Defense and CJS bills. It does not change the overall cap of $1.014 trillion for discretionary spending.

Transportation HUD

The House passed the $52 billion FY15 Transportation HUD spending bill on the floor by a vote of 229 to 192. Last year’s bill had to be pulled from the House floor because of disagreements over the top-line funding level and concerns that TIGER grants had been zeroed out. House Republicans believe that the grant program has been poorly managed and slashed TIGER grants from $600 million in FY14 to $100 million in FY15. During floor consideration, Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) offered an amendment that would bar the issuance of Section 8 housing vouchers for levels above 120% of an area’s fair market rental value. The amendment passed 210 to 209. The House also adopted an amendment cutting off funding for high-speed rail in California offered by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA). And amendments barring the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Agency from raising its liability insurance requirements for truck and bus companies and barring federal housing agencies from acquiring cameras to photograph license plates were passed. Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) offered a controversial amendment to abolish subsidies for Amtrak, but was defeated on a voice vote. The White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy that criticized several provisions in the bill, but stopped short of threatening a veto.

Defense

The House Appropriations Committee marked up their $491 billion FY15 Defense spending bill in full committee this week. The bill provides an increase of $4.1 billion above the FY14 enacted level and $200 million above the President’s budget request. The draft bill provides $165 billion for operations and maintenance ($4.8 billion more than the FY14), $63.4 billion for research and development, $91.2 billion for equipment procurement, and $31.6 billion for defense health and military family programs. In addition, the bill includes $79.4 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding, the same level requested by the President and included in the FY15 House-passed National Defense Authorization Act. House Appropriators approved the bill by voice vote after adding restrictions on OCO funding after heated debate over the Bergdahl prisoner exchange. The provision withholds 85% of OCO funds until the Pentagon assures Congress that it will not circumvent a law requiring it to notify lawmakers 30 days in advance of transferring Guantanamo Bay prisoners from the detention facility. Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) offered an amendment during the full committee markup that would cut funding for O&M and put the savings toward maintaining the A-10 aircraft fleet, which the Air Force wants to retire. The amendment was not agreed to. The bill may be considered on the House floor next week.

Homeland Security

The House Appropriations Committee marked up its $39.2 billion FY15 Homeland Security spending bill in subcommittee this week. This is a decrease of $50 million below the FY14 enacted level, but an increase of $887.8 million above the President’s FY14 budget request. The bill includes an additional $78 million to handle the increase in unaccompanied minors crossing the Southern border. Amendments that were adopted included a provision barring ICE from funding abortions for female detainees, except in cases of rape or incest or when the life of the mother would be endangered. Members are also frustrated with tardy submissions of reports and expenditure plans from DHS so they zeroed out funding for the Office of Legislative Affairs and threatened to cut other management accounts.

Energy & Water

The House Energy and Water Appropriations subcommittee marked up its $34 billion FY15 Energy & Water spending bill this week. FY15 funding in the bill is $50 million less than the FY14 enacted level and an increase of $327 million above the President’s budget request. The bill provides $11.4 billion for DOE’s nuclear weapons security programs, including Weapons Activities, Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, and Naval Reactors. This is a $154.6 million increase over FY14. The Army Corps of Engineers is funded at $5.5 billion, an increase of $25 million above FY14. Environmental Cleanup funding Included in the legislation is $5.6 billion, $202.2 million below FY14. Funding for energy programs within DOE is $10.3 billion – an increase of $113 million above FY14. The bill includes $5.1 billion for science research (same as FY14); $1 billion for the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Reclamation to help manage, develop, and protect the water resources of western states; $150 million for the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Disposal program; and $55 million for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to continue the adjudication of DOE’s Yucca Mountain License application. Republicans held off on trying to block the Obama administrations plans for new carbon emissions standards, but are expected to offer amendments on this issue during full committee markup next week. The bill will be marked up in full committee next Wednesday.

Senate

The Senate marked up their $156.8 billion FY15 Labor HHS appropriations bill in subcommittee and was expected to consider the bill in full committee on Thursday, but the markup was postponed indefinitely. The postponement may have come from concern over potential controversial Republican amendments (e.g. cutting funds for “Obamacare”) that would cause vulnerable Democrats (Landrieu, D-LA; Pryor, D-AR; and Shaheen, D-NH) up for reelection in 2014 to be put in the position of casting difficult votes. The bill is about $900 million more than the House’s allocation, but $1.2 billion below the administration’s request.

FY2015 Appropriations Bill Status

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

Full Committee: May 29

Floor: Pulled June 11

Subcommittee: May 20

Full Committee: May 22

Floor: week of June 16

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

Full Committee: May 8

House Floor: May 29

Subcommittee: June 3

Full Committee: June 5

Floor: week of June 16

Defense Subcommittee: May 30

Full Committee: June 10

Floor: week of June 16?

Subcommittee: Week of July 7
Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee: June 10

Full Committee: June 18

Subcommittee: June 17

Full Committee: June 19

Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee: June 18  
Homeland Security Subcommittee: May 28

Full Committee: June 11

 
Interior    
Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies   Subcommittee: June 10

Full Committee: postponed

Legislative Branch Subcommittee: April 3

Full Committee: April 9

Floor: May 1

Full Committee: June 19
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 Subcommittee: June 17 Subcommittee: June 17

Full Committee: June 19

Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies Subcommittee: May 7

Full Committee: May 21

Floor: June 10

Subcommittee: June 3

Full Committee: June 5

Floor: week of June 16

Defense Acquisition

Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall and Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition Sean Stackley held a press briefing today on the second annual Performance of the Defense Acquisition System Report, a Better Buying Power update and the Superior Supplier Incentive Program. The report examines 150 defense deals and breaks down the performance of major contractors in delivering programs on time and on budget. A copy of DOD’s Performance of the Defense Acquisition System 2014 Annual Report can be found at:

http://www.defense.gov/pubs/Performance-of-Defense-Acquisition-System-2014.pdf

Cybersecurity

Federal Communications Commission Cybersecurity Approach

At an American Enterprise Institute event this week, “After Snowden: The road ahead for cybersecurity,” Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler unveiled a new cybersecurity approach for the nation’s communications networks. Wheeler warned communication companies to take cybersecurity more seriously if they want to avoid new regulations on their networks. He said that the FCC believes that, “there is a new regulatory paradigm where the Commission relies on industry and the market first while preserving other options if that approach is unsuccessful.” Wheeler also said that the FCC would be seeking input on how to measure whether any security regime implemented by the telecom industry is working and effective. The full text of Wheeler’s speech can be found at:

http://www.fcc.gov/document/chairman-wheeler-american-enterprise-institute-washington-dc

DHS Cyber Industry Days

DHS is inviting interested parties (universities, businesses, laboratories, etc) to participate in their Cyber Industry Days regarding an upcoming solicitation/call to be issued against the DHS, S&T, Cybersecurity Division BAA (https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=f73abf2e77c708034a7c63634679ba1b&tab=core&_cview=1). The purpose of the industry days is to brief interested parties on each specific BAA topic:

  1. Distributed Denial of Service Defense: Thursday, June 26, 2014 from 1:30 pm – 3:45 pm (EDT) at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC. https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=e85505561a099a6043631c5709a98d55&tab=core&_cview=0
  2. Cyber Physical Systems Security: Thursday, June 26, 2014 from 9:30 am – 11:45 am (EDT) at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC. https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=2472ee7c7126e48008a76b65fe2ca903&tab=core&_cview=0
  3. Mobile Technology Security: Tuesday, June 24, 2014 from 1:30 pm – 4:15 pm (EDT) at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC. https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=621830a47ca346e6e0a1063fa99a4d5b&tab=core&_cview=0
  4. Data Privacy Technologies Research and Development: Tuesday, June 24, 2014 from 9:00 am – 11:50 am (EDT) at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC. https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=b0179e8b8c3164a264bddd1355e1c91d&tab=core&_cview=0

Homeland Security

The House of Representatives passed HR 4228 the DHS Acquisition Accountability and Efficiency Act by voice vote under suspension of the rules this week. The bill would require an acquisition review board led by the DHS Under Secretary for Management to review every major acquisition program in DHS and to take steps to improve the accountability, standardization, and transparency of major DHS acquisition programs. In the event of a breach in a major DHS acquisition program, the board would have to notify Congress of decisions to move forward with each phase of the acquisition and provide lawmakers with strategic plans for improvement. DHS would also be required to provide Congress with a multiyear acquisition strategy.

The House Homeland Security Committee marked up eight bills in full committee this week approving all by voice vote:

  • HR 3846 would authorize Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to create a uniform procedure for the use of deadly force by CBP officers and border agents, as well as require them to take continuing education courses in order to understand federal legal rulings and court decisions.
  • HR 3488 establishes the conditions for the formation of preclearance facilities outside the US.
  • HR 3202, the “Essential Transportation Worker Identification Credential Assessment Act” requires a security assessment of the transportation security card program.
  • The “Social Media Working Group Act” (HR 4263) authorizes DHS to establish a social media working group.
  • The “DHS Security Interoperable Communications Act” (HR 4289) requires DHS to maintain interoperable communications capabilities among DHS components.
  • HR 4802, the “Airport Security Enhancement Act of 2014” focuses on improving intergovernmental planning for and communication during security incidents at domestic airports.
  • The “TSA Office of Inspection Accountability Act” (HR 4803) requires TSA to conform to existing Federal law and regulations regarding criminal investigator positions.
  • HR 4812, the “Honor Flight Act” requires TSA to establish a process for providing expedited and dignified passenger screening services for veterans traveling to visit war memorials.

Political Updates

In a major upset this week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) lost his bid for reelection in a primary contest to Tea Party backed candidate David Brat. Prior to his defeat, Cantor was considered next in line for House Speaker. The following day Cantor announced that he would step down from his leadership position on July 31. House Republicans will hold elections for majority leader and majority whip next week on June 19. Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA was initially the only candidate in the running for majority leader, but Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) announced today that he will run for the position. Labrador is a leading conservative voice. Reps. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Pete Sessions (R-TX) were considering challenging McCarthy for the leadership spot, but quickly dropped out. Reps. Steve Scalise (R-LA), Marlin Stutzman (R-IN), and Peter Roskam (R-IL) are all running for McCarthy’s position as majority whip.

Michael McCord was confirmed by the full Senate this week to be Under Secretary of Defense, Comptroller. He replaces current Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale who is retiring. McCord has been serving as the deputy comptroller since January 2009 and was nominated for the position four months ago. He is a former Senate Armed Services Committee staffer under Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) and former Chairman Sam Nunn (D-GA). Hale’s last day at the Pentagon has not been announced.

Air Force Maj. Gen. William Bender has been appointed to the rank of lieutenant general for assignment as chief of information dominance and chief information officer in the office of the secretary of the Air Force. He’s now deputy chief in the office of Security Cooperation-Iraq.

Next Week

The House may begin consideration of HR 4413, the Customer Protection and End User Relief Act, a bill reauthorizing the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, as well as the FY15 Defense Appropriations bill. The Senate will turn its attention to a minibus appropriations bill containing the FY15 Commerce, Justice, Science; Transportation HUD; and Agriculture spending bills.

Washington Weekly – June 6, 2014

June 6, 2014 

The Senate passed S 2270, the Insurance Capital Standards Clarification Act of 2014, a bill revising Sec. 171 of the Dodd-Frank Act (also called the “Collins Amendment”). The bill clarifies that the Federal Reserve Board can apply insurance-based capital standards to the insurance portion of any insurance holding company it oversees. The Senate approved the nominations of Sylvia Mathews Burwell to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, Stefan Selig to be Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, and Carolyn Hessler Radelet to be Director of the Peace Corps. The Senate also approved a number of judicial nominations as well as commissioners of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The House was in recess.

FY2015 Appropriations

Senate Appropriations chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) said this week that she is planning to bundle several appropriations bills together for floor consideration. While she will defer to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on how they will be brought to the floor, she is preparing “clusters” or “minibuses” for when floor time comes. Reid has previously indicated to Mikulski that appropriators could have two weeks of floor time for consideration of their bills. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), Chairman of the Senate Defense Appropriations subcommittee this week reiterated his intent to mark up the FY15 Defense Appropriations bill the week of July 7.

The Senate Appropriations Committee marked up the FY15 Commerce, Justice, Science spending bill in subcommittee and full committee this week. The $51.2 billion bill (a decrease of $398 million below FY14 and an increase of $1 billion above the President’s request level) funds the Department of Commerce at $8.6 billion and the Department of Justice (DOJ) at $28 billion. The bill includes creating cybersecurity standards to protect .mil, .gov, and .com and provides an additional $722 million for DOJ to continue its cybersecurity work. NIST received $900 million, $50 million above FY14; and NSF received $7.2 billion, an increase of $83 million over FY14. The Senate also included $58.5 million for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System compared with the $78 million the House provided last week after agreeing to an amendment to increase funding for the program. The committee approved an amendment offered by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) that would prohibit federal law enforcement authorities from preventing farmers from experimenting with industrial hemp in states where it is permitted as is allowed for by the new farm bill (PL 113-79).

The Committee also marked up their FY15 Transportation HUD bill in subcommittee and full committee this week. The $54.4 billion bill provides a total of $18.1 billion in discretionary budget authority for the Department of Transportation (DOT) and $36 billion for Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Appropriators did not make significant changes to the funding levels in the markup, but did add some policy provisions including suspending existing federal rules that require truck drivers to take 34 hours off between workweeks while calling for more study on the rules. The committee report also includes language encouraging DOT to ban cell phones on planes. DOT announced in February it was taking comments on a rule banning phone calls in flight.

Next week the Senate will turn its attention to the FY15 Labor HHS Education spending bill marking it up in subcommittee on June 10 and full committee on June 12. On June 10, the House will mark up its FY15 Energy and Water spending bill in subcommittee and its FY15 Homeland Security and Defense bills in full committee.

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 29

Subcommittee: June 3

Full Committee: June 5

Defense Subcommittee: May 30

Full Committee: June 10

Subcommittee: Week of July 7
Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee: June 10  
Financial Services and General Government    
Homeland Security Subcommittee: May 28

Full Committee: June 11

 
Interior    
Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies   Subcommittee: June 10

Full Committee: June 12

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

Subcommittee: June 3

Full Committee: June 5

National Defense Authorization Act

The Senate Armed Services Committee released its FY15 National Defense Authorization Act report (113-176) this week. A copy of the report can be found at: http://www.vantagepointstrat.com/?attachment_id=203.

Cybersecurity

The Homeland Security Advisory Council held a meeting on Thursday at which the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) Under Secretary Suzanne Spaulding mentioned that the NPPD is reaching out to the venture capitalist community to encourage them to put analysis of a company’s cybersecurity practices in their due diligence process. The hope is that this will drive improved cybersecurity risk management processes in the private sector. NPPD is also working with the American Bar Association to push for more attention on cybersecurity in the M&A due-diligence process.

Cybersecurity was also a topic of discussion at the Bloomberg Cybersecurity: Getting to Business conference earlier this week. Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee and speaker at the conference said that he and Sen. Feinstein (D-CA), Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, have been working on cyber legislation and are down to a couple of outstanding provisions: 1) liability protection and 2) how a private sector entity reports an incident. The bill will create a DHS portal and private entities will report activity to the portal in real time. Under the bill, companies would have immunity from liability if they shared the information through the portal. They would not have immunity outside of the portal. Chambliss said that they are at the point of counting votes, but Sen. Feinstein is sensitive to the concerns of privacy advocates. Chambliss also said that he thought the Executive Order was playing out pretty well, that the framework is working, and that NIST is doing a good job of engaging with the private sector. He is concerned that if they don’t get a bill done this year, with his retirement and Rep. Rogers retirement there will be a whole new set of members with potentially new priorities next year.

NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers was also a speaker at the conference. Adm. Rogers, when not getting besieged with questions about Edward Snowden, emphasized the need for maximizing detection capabilities and said, “I believe [cybersecurity] legislation is necessary. We tried to do this on a voluntary basis but there is still a big delta. Coming together in a partnership is where we can really gain advantages.”

Veterans Affairs

The Senate reached a bipartisan compromise this week on a bill that will allow veterans to see private doctors if they experience long wait times or live more than 40 miles from a VA facility. The measure would also fund the construction of more than 25 new VA medical facilities in 18 states. And it incorporates provisions from legislation introduced in the Senate by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) making it easier to fire VA officials on the spot without pay. While there was tentative agreement on the measure, fiscal conservatives in the Senate may call for offsets for the $2 billion in emergency funding authorized in the bill. Democrats and moderate Republicans argue that the 2011 debt limit law allows for budget caps to be waived in the event of an emergency. While the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) said that they are open to amendments, he also urged his colleagues to not delay passage of the bill with extraneous amendments.

Political Updates

With neither side clinching 50% of the vote, the GOP Senate primary in Mississippi will now go to a runoff on June 24. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), a six-term incumbent, received 48.8% while his tea party challenger state Sen. Chris McDaniel received 49.6%. Sen. Cochran is the ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee and also holds seats on the Agriculture and Rules Committees.

Secretary of Defense Hagel announced this week that Robert Cardillo will be the next director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). He will replace Letitia Long who is retiring later this year after four years at the helm of NGA. Cardillo is currently serving as the deputy director for national intelligence for intelligence integration, and previously served as the deputy director of the defense intelligence agency (DIA), the deputy director for analysis at DIA, and the director of analysis and production at NGA. Cardillo will formally succeed Long in October 2014.

Defense Secretary Hagel chose General Joseph Dunford, the commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, to be the next commandant of the Marine Corps. The nomination is subject to confirmation by the Senate. Dunford will replace Gen. James Amos, who is retiring. Amos has led the Marine Corps since October 2010. Dunford is an infantry officer, the branch the Marines traditionally tap for their commandants. He is a graduate of St. Michael’s College and holds a Master of Arts degree from Georgetown University. He was commissioned in the Marine Corps in 1977.

The President nominated Navy Rear Admiral Walter Carter Jr. for appointment to the rank of vice admiral and for assignment as superintendent of the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Carter is currently serving as president of the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.

Next Week

The House will consider the FY15 Transportation HUD spending bill. The Senate will begin consideration of S 2422, a bill to improve the access of veterans to medical services from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Senate may also begin consideration of the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act (S 2432).

Washington Weekly – May 30, 2014

May 30, 2014 

The House passed the FY15 Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill as well as the FY15 Intelligence Authorization bill. The Senate was in recess.

FY2015 Appropriations

Homeland Security

The House Appropriations Committee marked up its $39.2 billion FY15 Homeland Security spending bill in subcommittee this week. This is a decrease of $50 million below the FY14 enacted level, but an increase of $887.8 million above the President’s FY14 budget request. The bill includes a total of $7 billion in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster funding, which matched the President’s request. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) received $10.8 billion, an increase of $219.6 million above FY14, providing for 21,370 Border Patrol agents and 23,775 CBP officers. CBP funding also included $412.5 million for border security technology, an increase of $61 million above the FY14 level. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was funded at $5.5 billion, and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at $4.6 billion (a decrease of $300.3 million below FY14). A total of $745.5 million was provided for the National Protection Program Directorate’s cybersecurity operations ($46.7 million below FY14), $8.5 billion for the Coast Guard ($46.6 million below FY14), $1.6 billion for the Secret Service ($51.7 million above FY14), $124.8 million for E-Verify, and $1.1 billion for Science and Technology ($113.6 million below FY14). The bill denies the President’s proposal to increase aviation passenger security fees and CBP user fees, and encourages reform of passenger screening operations supporting TSA’s shift to more risk-based screening. The bill also denies a consolidation of the DHS headquarters for a savings of $73 million.

Defense

The House Appropriations Committee also marked up their $491 billion FY15 Defense spending bill in subcommittee. The bill provides an increase of $4.1 billion above the FY14 enacted level and $200 million above the President’s budget request. The draft bill provides $165 billion for operations and maintenance ($4.8 billion more than the FY14), $63.4 billion for research and development, $91.2 billion for equipment procurement, and $31.6 billion for defense health and military family programs. The bill also provides $789 million to refuel the USS George Washington aircraft carrier, $5.8 billion for 38 F-35 aircraft (four more than requested), $1.6 billion for seven KC-46A tankers, $975 million for 12 EA-18G Growlers aircraft (not included in the President’s FY15 request), and a 1.8% wage increase for service members, exceeding the president’s request of 1%. The bill does not block the retirement of the A-10 attack aircraft, rejects the president’s request to reduce basic housing allowances, prohibits funding for transfers of detainees to the US, and bars the Army from transferring AH-64 Apache attack helicopters from the Army National Guard to the active Army.

In addition, the bill includes $79.4 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding, the same level requested by the President and included in the FY15 House-passed National Defense Authorization Act. In his commencement address at West Point this week, the President said that he would ask Congress to support a new $5 billion Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund (CTPF) to provide the administration with the “flexibility and resources required to respond to emerging needs as terrorist threats around the world continue to evolve.” The CTPF would be funded from within the $79.4 billion FY15 OCO account if Congress supports the President’s request. But some in Congress were skeptical of the proposal, concerned that the administration was laying groundwork to sustain funding levels for the OCO account after the US withdraws from Afghanistan. The administration announced earlier this week that all US forces would be out of Afghanistan by 2017 and that their FY15 OCO request would be forthcoming soon now that the President has made a decision on troop levels in Afghanistan. White House officials said it would likely cost about $20 billion to keep 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan next year.

Since the House is in recess next week, the full Committee likely will take up the defense bill the week of June 9.

Agriculture

The House Appropriations Committee also approved its $20.88 billion FY15 Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Agencies spending bill in full committee 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. Six amendments were adopted during full committee considerations: adding $155 million for the Agricultural Research Service Building and Facilities account; prohibiting funding for inspections of horse slaughter facilities in the US; adding report language to encourage compliance with FDA’s 2012 “Scientific Integrity” policy; prohibiting funds to purchase processed poultry from China for use in school lunch programs; adding report language encouraging the FDA to accept certain types of clear, visible calorie displays on products served through vending machines; and making technical and non-controversial changes to the bill and report. The panel rejected a Democratic bid to remove language from the bill that would require the USDA to provide one-year waivers to school meal operators who can show financial hardship in meeting new school meal nutrition standards.

Commerce-Justice-Science

The $51.2 billion FY15 Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) bill was passed by the House yesterday by a vote of 321 to 87. The House approved several amendments including ones to increase by $19.5 million funding for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS); increase funding for the COPS grant program by $110 million; help NIST launch a new cybersecurity framework study; bar the Justice Department from using its funding to prosecute medical marijuana users who are abiding by their state’s law; increase weather research activities by $12 million; and provide an additional $8 million for the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. Democrats tried unsuccessfully to strip language Republicans added during committee markup that would restrict efforts to require gun dealers on the Southwest border to inform the Justice Department when they sell multiple rifles or shotguns to the same person. The amendment was withdrawn. A full list of the adopted amendments can be found at:

http://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/05.30.14_fy_2015_cjs_bill_-_floor_adopted_amendments.pdf.

While the administration didn’t issue a veto threat, they released a Statement of Administration Policy this week that raised concerns with the reduction in NTIA funding, cuts for some state and local law enforcement grants, and “objectionable language provisions” on gun control issues. Senate appropriators will consider their CJS bill in subcommittee next Tuesday and full committee on Thursday.

Transportation-HUD

The House is expected to take up their $52 billion FY15 Transportation-HUD (THUD) spending bill on the floor when they return from recess the week of June 9. The bill will be considered under an open rule, giving lawmakers the freedom to offer any relevant amendments. Senate appropriators will consider their THUD bill in subcommittee next Tuesday and full committee on Thursday.

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 29

Subcommittee: June 3

Full Committee: June 5

Defense Subcommittee: May 30  
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

Subcommittee: June 3

Full Committee: June 5

Tax Extenders

The House Ways and Means Committee met this week to continue their work on tax extender legislation. The committee marked up six separate bills that would extend the IRA charitable rollover, make permanent the charitable deduction for food inventory, make permanent the charitable deduction for property donated for conservation, modify the excise tax on the investment income of private foundations, and make permanent 50 percent bonus depreciation.

Political Updates

After presenting a review from the VA Inspector General to President Obama that showed that misconduct was widespread and systemic throughout the VA health system, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki offered his resignation and the President accepted it. President Obama also announced that Secretary Shinseki had begun the process of firing Phoenix VA hospital senior leaders and cancelling performance bonuses. Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson will become acting secretary until a permanent replacement is nominated and confirmed. Gibson, a graduate of West Point, was just confirmed as Deputy Secretary in February. Prior to his appointment, Gibson served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the United Services Organizations (USO). The President also announced that Rob Nabors will stay at VA temporarily to assist Gibson with tackling this problem.

Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX), the oldest-serving member of Congress and one of the last WWII veterans serving in Congress, was defeated in a primary runoff by former US Attorney John Ratcliffe. While Hall won the initial primary in March, he failed to earn the majority of the vote needed to avoid a primary runoff. Hall is the first incumbent to lose in a primary this year ending his 34-year career in Congress. The only other WWII member serving in Congress, Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) is retiring at the end of this Congress.

Next Week

The House is in recess. The Senate will take up Sylvia Mathews Burwell’s nomination to be Health and Human Services secretary.