Washington Weekly – August 29, 2014

August 29, 2014

The House and Senate were in recess this week.

Sequestration

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued its FY15 Sequestration Update Report to the President and Congress. The report provides an update on the status of the discretionary caps and on the compliance of pending discretionary appropriations legislation with those caps. The report finds that if the current discretionary caps remain unchanged, under OMB’s estimates Senate action to date for the 12 annual appropriations bills for FY15 would result in a sequestration of approximately $34 million in discretionary programs in the defense category. The report also finds that actions by the House of Representatives for both the defense and non-defense categories and actions by the Senate for the non-defense category are in compliance with the current FY15 spending limits, and that present House and Senate action on pending FY14 supplemental appropriations would not breach the current FY14 limits. Finally, the report also contains OMB’s Preview Estimate of the Disaster Relief Funding Adjustment for FY15.

A copy of the report can be found at:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/legislative_reports/sequestration/sequestration_update_august2014.pdf

Defense

This week President Obama outlined five priorities the Administration is focused on to ensure that we are fulfilling our promises to service members, veterans, and their families: delivering the quality health care veterans have been promised; ensuring all veterans have every opportunity to pursue the American Dream; providing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with the resources our veterans deserve; protecting the dignity and rights of all veterans; and eliminating the decades-old disability claims backlog. More specifically, Obama said that they are working to improve the transition between DoD and VA care for those leaving military service, and to provide military families with new private-sector commitments that will make it easier to obtain mortgage interest rate reductions and reduced monthly payments as well as student debt relief.

The President also announced 19 new executive actions to serve the military community, including new efforts to strengthen service members’ access to mental health care. These executive actions can be found at:

http://www.va.gov/opa/docs/26-AUG-JOINT-FACT-SHEET-FINAL.pdf

Cybersecurity

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is requesting information about the level of awareness of and initial experiences with its Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity throughout critical infrastructure organizations. The Framework, directed by Executive Order 13636 ‘‘Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity’’ and released on Feb 12, 2014, consists of standards, methodologies, procedures, and processes that align policy, business, and technological approaches to address cyber risks.

Responses to the RFI will inform NIST’s planning and decision-making about possible tools and resources to help organizations to use the Framework more effectively and efficiently. They will also help inform future versions of the Framework. The responses will also inform the Department of Homeland Security’s Critical Infrastructure Cyber Community C3 Voluntary Program. In addition, NIST is interested in receiving comments related to the Roadmap that accompanied publication of the Framework. All information provided will also assist in developing the agenda for a workshop on the Framework being planned for October 29-30, 2014.

The RFI poses nine questions on the current level of industry awareness of the framework among companies as well as regulators, and on the challenges to raising awareness. It asks 10 detailed questions on experiences so far with using the framework and three questions on NIST’s roadmap for further development.

Comments must be received by 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on October 10, 2014.

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-08-26/pdf/2014-20315.pdf

Homeland Security

Senate Hearing on Militarization of Local Police Departments

The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (HSGAC) will hold a hearing on the militarization of local police departments on Sept. 9 at 10:30 am. The hearing, “Oversight of Federal Programs for Equipping State and Local Law Enforcement,” is being held in response to events in Ferguson, MO and will be co-chaired by HSGAC Chairman Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Chairwoman of the HSGAC Subcommittee on Financial & Contracting Oversight.

DHS Science and Technology Request for Comments

DHS Science and Technology (S&T) Under Secretary, Dr. Reginald Brothers, posted a blog this week seeking input on S&T’s visionary goals, which are:

  1. Screening at Speed: Matching the Pace of Life
  2. A Trusted Cyber Future: Protecting Privacy, Commerce, and Community
  3. Enable the Decision Maker: Providing Actionable Information Ahead of Incident Speed
  4. Responder of the Future: Protected, Connected, and Fully Aware

These goals are based on the policies and priorities in the 2014 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review.

Under Secretary Brothers posed these questions in his blog, “Based on what we know of today’s homeland security environment, what do you think the future will look like in 20 to 30 years? What should S&T plan to tackle now to ensure the nation is more resilient and secure in the future?” Brothers asked commenters to:

  • Provide insights into each of the proposed visionary goals.
  • Add new visionary goals for consideration.
  • Share ideas and perspectives and comment on others’ ideas.

All comments provided during this comment period will be reviewed by the working group and incorporated, where possible, into the final S&T Visionary Goals – to be released in early Fall.

The S&T Collaboration Community site will be open for comment through Sept. 7, 2014.

Political Updates

US Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Todd Park announced this week that he is stepping down from the job by the end of the year. Park was the second CTO in history following Aneesh Chopra in March 2012. Park is not leaving the administration, but instead plans on focusing on recruiting top tech talent for the federal government from Silicon Valley, a source familiar with the matter told FCW. While Megan Smith, most recently the vice president of the Google X lab, is said to be a top contender for Park’s job, both Google and the White House have so far refused comment.

Tennessee state Sen. Jim Tracy decided this week not to contest the results of the Aug. 7 Republican primary in the state’s 4th District. Tracy had challenged Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) in the primary losing by just 38 votes. DesJarlais will be the clear favorite in the general election as Mitt Romney carried the district with 65% of the vote in 2012.

The President nominated Russell Deyo to be Under Secretary for Management at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Sarah Saldaña to be Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement at DHS. Deyo retired from Johnson & Johnson in 2012 after 27 years of service during which he held a number of positions, including Vice President, General Counsel, and as a member of the Executive Committee. Saldaña is the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, a position she has held since 2011. She also serves as a member of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee. Previously, she was the Deputy Criminal Chief for the Fraud and Public Corruption section of the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas.

Next Week

The House and Senate are in recess until the week of September 8.

Washington Weekly – August 22, 2014

August 22, 2014

The House and Senate were in recess this week.

FY15 Appropriations

House and Senate Appropriators are preparing a continuing resolution (CR) that would likely fund the government through November/December. If Republicans take control of the Senate in the November elections, Appropriators may opt to punt their FY15 work until next year with another CR that could fund the government through April 2015.

Defense

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a Decisions and Opinions of the Comptroller General this week stating that the Department of Defense (DOD) violated section 8111 of the FY14 Department of Defense Appropriations Act when it transferred five individuals detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the nation of Qatar without providing at least 30 days notice to certain congressional committees. Section 8111 prohibits DOD from using appropriated funds to transfer any individuals detained at Guantanamo Bay unless the Secretary of Defense notifies certain congressional committees at least 30 days before the transfer. GAO also found that as a consequence of using its appropriations in a manner specifically prohibited by law, DOD also violated the Antideficiency Act because $988,400 was spent to transfer the detainees.

Political Updates

Democrats in Montana on Saturday chose their replacement candidate for US Senate after Sen. John Walsh (D-MT) dropped out of the race amid plagiarism allegations from his time at the US Army War College. State Rep. Amanda Curtis was chosen to face Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT) in the November election. Curtis is a first-time representative from Butte and a high school math teacher.

The special Democratic Senate primary was held in Hawaii on Aug 9 but two storm-ravaged precincts on the Big Island were not able to cast their ballots after a hurricane descended on Hawaii and the election was too close to call. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, challenged Sen. Brian Schatz for the nomination. Schatz was appointed by Governor Neil Abercrombie to replace the late US senator and president pro tempore Daniel Inouye after his passing in 2012. Schatz edged out Hanabusa in the primary and now faces Republican Cam Cavasso, who’s seeking the seat for the third time, in the general election this fall. Schatz holds seats on the Senate Commerce, Energy & Natural Resources, and Indian Affairs Committees.

Republicans in Alaska chose Dan Sullivan, the former state natural resources chief and attorney general, to be the Republican to challenge Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) this November. Sullivan beat out tea party candidate Joe Miller and Lieutenant Gov. Mead Treadwell.

Former Vermont US Senator James Jeffords passed away on Monday. Jeffords was originally registered as a Republican, but frequently voted with Democrats on matters such as health care, taxes, abortion, gay rights, gun control and the environment. He declared himself an Independent in 2001 giving Democrats the majority in the US Senate.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel chose his former Senate aide, Rexon Ryu, to be his new chief of staff. Ryu, who was also a deputy to Susan Rice and Samantha Power, will replace Mark Lippert, nominated to be ambassador to South Korea.

Nicole Wong, Deputy Chief Technology Officer at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has left her position to return to California. Wong played a large role in the administration’s recent big data initiatives. She was also in charge of leading privacy and internet policy initiatives at OSTP.

Bob Brese, the Energy Department’s chief information officer, announced this week that he is leaving government after almost 30 years. Brese’s last day will be Sept 5. While he plans to join the private sector, he did not mention where he was going next. Don Adcock will be the interim CIO when Brese leaves. Adcock came to Energy in April 2012 after spending more than two years as the executive director of the Army IT Agency.

Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) left Congress earlier this week after announcing his resignation plans earlier this month.

Lauren Claffey, current spokesperson for Sen. Saxby Chambliss and the Senate Intelligence Committee, is taking over as communications director for the House Homeland Security Committee after Labor Day. Chambliss is retiring at the end of this year.

Next Week

The House and Senate are in recess until the week of September 8.

Washington Weekly – August 15, 2014

August 15, 2014

The House and Senate were in recess this week. The President was on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard.

FY15 Appropriations

With the end of the fiscal year rapidly approaching and the House and Senate scheduled to be in session only 10 (House)/12 (Senate) days Congress may need to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government open after Sept 30. Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) still wants to attempt to pass an omnibus spending bill using the FY15 Military Construction-VA spending bill as the vehicle.

In the meantime, other lawmakers are contemplating a CR that would run through December 12. Since the bill is a “must-pass” bill, it could become a vehicle for other measures such as reauthorization of the EXIM Bank and the Internet Tax Freedom Act as well as emergency funding for the border and legislation targeting tax inversions.

Political Updates

The special Democratic Senate primary was held in Hawaii last Saturday but it is still too close to call. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) challenged Sen. Brian Schatz for the nomination. Schatz was appointed by Governor Neil Abercrombie to replace the late US senator and president pro tempore Daniel Inouye after his passing in 2012. Residents in two storm-ravaged precincts on the Big Island were not able to cast their ballots after a hurricane descended on Hawaii. The state’s Office of Elections decided on Monday to hold the special election for the two precincts today. Hanabusa filed suit claiming that residents in those two precincts are still without power, but a judge denied her request. Hanabusa currently trails Schatz by 1,635 votes.

In Minnesota, former state Rep. Tom Emmer defeated Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah in Tuesday’s GOP primary for the 6th Congressional District. Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) is retiring at the end of this Congress. Emmer is the favorite in the race in November as the seat is solidly Republican.

Next Week

The House and Senate are in recess until the week of September 8.

Washington Weekly – August 8, 2014

August 8, 2014 

The House and Senate were in recess this week. The President signed into law legislation to improve veterans’ access to healthcare as well as a bill providing FY14 emergency supplemental appropriations for the Government of Israel’s Iron Dome defense system.

Supplemental Appropriations

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson notified Congress that his agency will transfer $405 million from other programs within the agency to deal with the immigration crisis on the southwestern border. A large portion of the funding, $207 million, will come from FEMA’s disaster relief fund, $70.5 million will come from other CBP activities, and $30 million will come from the Coast Guard. The funding transfer is expected to sustain border operations through the end of FY14. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack also said that about $400 million to $500 million in fire prevention projects will have to be put on hold for FY14 as the funding set aside strictly for firefighting will run out by the end of August.

The Senate supplemental that stalled last week would provide $3.7 billion in emergency funding for the border, wildfire suppression and Israel’s anti-missile Iron Dome system. The House bill provided $694 million for the border crisis only as well as revisions to a 2008 anti-trafficking law (PL 110-457) and other policy changes. The funding and policy differences may be difficult for Congress to resolve when they return in September. With the agencies stretching out their funding to cover the rest of the fiscal year, an alternative would be for lawmakers to add more resources for FY15 in a continuing resolution rather than continue debate on a supplemental.

Political Updates

Former White House Press Secretary James Brady died on Monday. Brady was wounded in an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1981 and then became a symbol of the fight for gun control through his organization, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Sen. John Walsh (D-MT) announced yesterday that he was ending his campaign. His withdrawal from the race comes two weeks after The New York Times reported that he had plagiarized large sections of his thesis in 2007 to earn his master’s degree at the Army War College. Walsh has served in the Senate for six months after being appointed by Governor Steve Bullock to replace former Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) who was named ambassador to China. Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT) is the heavily favored Republican in the race. Democrats have until August 21 to replace him. The convention to replace Walsh is expected to take lace on August 16. Democrats may consider Nancy Keenan, a former head of Naral Pro-Choice America, State Senator David Wanzenried, Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger,

Primaries were held this week in Kansas, Michigan, Tennessee, and Washington.

Kansas

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) held off a challenge from former Rep. Todd Tiahrt, who formerly held the seat before a failed Senate race in 2010. Pompeo was backed by Koch Industries, the Koch-connected Americans for Prosperity, and the Club for Growth, while Tiahrt struggled to raise money after jumping in the race in late May.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) claimed a narrow victory against primary challenger Alan LaPolice. Huelskamp, a tea party conservative, had faced some criticism of his support for phasing out the Renewable Fuel Standard and other issues. Agriculture and ethanol groups backed LaPolice, but Huelskamp had much more cash on hand and the backing of conservative groups like Freedomworks.

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) held off a challenge from Milton Wolf, a tea party backed candidate and second cousin of President Obama. Roberts took a hit earlier this year when he admitted that he rented out his residence in Dodge City, KS and stays with a supporter when he visits the state. Wolf was criticized for posting X-rays of deceased patients on a social-networking site, along with inappropriate comments.

Michigan

Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) defeated businessman Brian Ellis, who received the endorsements of the US Chamber of Commerce and some members of Congress, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman and fellow Michigander Mike Rogers (R-MI). Amash had the support of the Club for Growth, which spent more than a half-million on the race.

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) beat tea party challenger Jim Bussler, and will go on to face Democrat Paul Clements, a college professor, in November. Upton vastly outraised Bussler, a registered nurse.

Freshman Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI) on Tuesday became the third GOP House member to lose renomination after he was defeated in the state’s 11th District Republican primary by attorney David Trott. Bentivolio, a reindeer rancher and Santa Claus impersonator, was elected in 2012 after then-Rep. Thaddeus McCotter was kicked off the ballot. Trott had the backing of the US Chamber of Commerce endorsed Trott, and Mitt Romney campaigned twice for him.

Tennessee

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) held off a challenge from tea party backed candidate, state Rep. Joe Carr as well as five other challengers. Alexander had faced some criticism for his vote for the immigration-reform bill that passed the Senate last year. Alexander is the top Republican on the Senate’s energy and water appropriations panel

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN) also held off a strong GOP primary challenge from Weston Wamp in Tennessee’s 3rd District. Fleischmann won the 2010 nomination in an 11-way primary with under 30% of the vote, and in 2012, with three candidates (including Wamp) on the ballot, Fleischmann failed to crack the 40% mark.

In the 4th district, the results are unofficial, but it appears that Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) defeated primary challenger Jim Tracy. Tracy challenged DesJarlais after reports surfaced that DesJarlais, a doctor, had affairs with his patients and had encouraged his ex-wife to get two abortions.

Washington

Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA), Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, announced earlier this year that he would retire at the end of this Congress. A number of Republicans threw their hat in the ring to replace him, as did a handful of Democrats and Independents. However, the state’s “top-two” system ensured that Hastings would be replaced by a Republican. Former Washington Redskins tight end Clint Didier and former state agriculture director Dan Newhouse led in the race by a comfortable margin.

Next Week

The House and Senate are in recess until the week of September 8.

Washington Weekly – August 1, 2014

August 1, 2014

This week the House passed HR 4315, the 21st Century Endangered Species Transparency Act; the conference report to accompany HR 3230, a bill to improve the access of veterans to medical services from the Department of Veterans Affairs; and HR 935, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2013. The House also passed a resolution providing authority to move forward with a lawsuit against President Barack Obama. The resolution was agreed to in a party line vote of 225 to 201.

The Senate confirmed Robert McDonald to be Secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department by a vote of 97 to 0 and John Tefft to be the next American ambassador to Russia. The Senate passed the conference report to accompany HR 3230, which now goes to the President for his signature. The Senate also first passed an amended version of HR 5021, the Highway and Transportation Funding Act, but then agreed to the House-passed version of the bill by a vote of 81 to 13 after the Congressional Budget Office reported that the Senate’s amended version was $2.4 billion short of the amount needed to offset the fund’s infusion. The bill, which keeps highway and transit programs funded through May, now goes to the President for his signature. The Senate also passed a $225 million emergency appropriation for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system Friday. The Senate failed to invoke cloture on S 2569, the Bring Jobs Home Act, and could not reach agreement with Republicans on S 2648, the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act.

Appropriations

Emergency Supplemental

The Senate on Thursday blocked an emergency funding measure (S 2648) to respond to the border crisis. The $2.7 billion funding measure died on a procedural vote, 50 to 44. The bill needed 60 votes to advance.

House Republican leaders also abruptly cancelled a vote on their $659 million measure on Thursday when they realized they didn’t have the votes necessary for passage. The House Rules Committee is meeting this afternoon to consider a new plan that would call for two votes in the House later tonight. The first vote would be on a slightly larger $694 million border supplemental measure that would provide $405 million for DHS, $22 million to accelerate judicial proceedings for immigrants, $70 million for National Guard border efforts, $197 million for HHS, and $40 million in repatriation assistance to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The bill also includes policy provisions amending the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, providing authority for the Secretary of State to negotiate agreements with foreign countries regarding Unaccompanied Children, providing a “last-in, first-out” policy prioritizing the removal of minors that most recently arrived, authorizing additional temporary judges, changing the Immigration and Nationality Act to strengthen the law prohibiting criminals with serious drug related convictions, prohibiting the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior from denying CBP activities on federal land, authorizing the deployment of the National Guard to the Southern border, and prohibiting the housing of unauthorized immigrants on military bases if the use of the base will displace service members. The second vote would be on a bill that would bolster language targeting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

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 15

Full Committee: July 17

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

Full Committee: June 18

House Floor: July 10

Subcommittee: June 17

Full Committee: postponed

Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee: June 18

Full Committee: June 25

Floor: July 16

Subcommittee: June 24
Homeland Security Subcommittee: May 28

Full Committee: June 11

Subcommittee: June 24

Full Committee: June 26

Interior Subcommittee: July 9

Full Committee: July 15

 
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 Affairs Reform

The House approved by a vote of 420 to 5 a conference report to HR 3230, a bill that overhauls the embattled Department of Veterans Affairs. The Senate took up the measure later in the week and approved it by a vote of 91 to 3. The bill now goes to the President for his signature.

The conference report was crafted by the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee chairmen, Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). The $17 billion compromise bill would provide $10 billion for veterans to receive health care outside of the VA system if they cannot get medical service at a VA facility within a reasonable amount of time or live more than 40 miles from a VA facility and $5 billion for hiring new doctors and nurses and extending and increasing debt reduction payments for participants in the VA’s Health Professionals Education Assistance Program. Most of the bill’s spending (~$12B) is not offset with other cuts. The bill gives the new VA Secretary more authority to fire senior executives accused of wrongdoing (with a 21-day appeal period in which they would not receive pay), prohibits bonuses for VA employees through FY16, and authorizes 27 new “major medical facility” leases. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the bill would increase the deficit by about $10 billion over 10 years. Sanders said that the bill only addresses immediate concerns, and did not rule out seeking more funding increases for the VA in the future.

A copy of the conference report can be found at:

https://beta.congress.gov/113/crpt/hrpt564/CRPT-113hrpt564.pdf

Defense

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark Welsh III this week rolled out a new strategic framework that will guide Air Force planning and resourcing over the next 30 years. The framework has three main elements: a long-term future look that provides the vectors and imperatives necessary to guide planning activities, a 20-year resource-informed plan, and a 10-year balanced budget, based on fiscal projections. The framework will be used for organizing, training and equipping the Air Force going forward, providing the strategic agility to respond to complex challenges confronting our nation. It will allow the Air Force to adapt and respond faster than potential adversaries. James reinforced that the Air Force’s top three priorities are: 1) taking care of people, 2) balancing readiness of today and readiness of tomorrow, and 3) making every dollar count.

The first document in the framework trilogy, “America’s Air Force: A Call to the Future,” can be found at:

http://www.af.mil/Portals/1/documents/SECAF/AF_30_Year_Strategy.pdf

The Air Force will release the other two parts of the trilogy – a 20-year resource-informed “strategic master plan” by the end of the year, and eventually a 10-year balanced budget that will be based on fiscal projections.

Homeland Security

Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Program

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs approved an amended version of HR 4007, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Program Authorization and Accountability Act of 2014. The substitute amendment introduced by Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) and Ranking Member Tom Coburn (R-OK), The Protecting and Securing American Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attacks Act of 2014, would reauthorize the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) Program until 2018, strengthen management practices to ensure no high-risk facilities are going unregulated, strengthen whistleblower protections, and simplify reporting and information sharing practices. In May, the Committee held a hearing to examine the current state of the CFATS program and the need to reauthorize it. The bill passed the House on July 8.

Custom and Border Protection

The House passed by voice vote HR 3846, the United States Customs and Border Protection Authorization Act. The bill’s passage marks the first time either the House or Senate has backed a formal authorization of the CBP and its security functions, which include the Border Patrol and customs screening. The bill would also task the agency with new reporting requirements on migrant children and the use of lethal force by border patrol agents. And, under the measure, the CBP would have to assess whether its current facilities for migrant children are in compliance with laws on housing, feeding, and providing medical care for minors.

NSA Reform

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced a new NSA reform bill on Tuesday, the Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ensuring Effective Discipline Over Monitoring (USA Freedom) Act of 2014. The bill has 13 bipartisan cosponsors and the support of the White House, tech companies, and privacy and civil liberties groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, FreedomWorks, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute. But the path forward for the bill is uncertain, as Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mark Udall (D-CO), two of the biggest critics of the NSA, have declined to cosponsor the bill as did Senate Intelligence Committee leaders Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA). Tech and privacy groups are concerned that Feinstein will try to incorporate a data retention mandate into the bill. Leahy will try to move the measure through the Senate when they return in September. As expected the Senate started the process of allowing the bill to bypass committee consideration and go directly to the floor. A copy of the bill can be found at:

http://www.vantagepointstrat.com/?p=239

Cybersecurity

House Passes Four Cybersecurity Bills

The House passed four cybersecurity bills this week: Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul’s (R-TX) National Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection Act (HR 3696), Rep. Patrick Meehan’s (R-PA) Critical Infrastructure Research and Development Advancement Act (HR 2952), Rep. Yvette Clarke’s (D-NY) Homeland Security Cybersecurity Boots-on-the-Ground Act (HR 3107), and Rep. Kerry Bentivolio’s (R-MI) Safe and Secure Federal Websites Act of 2014 (HR 3635). HR 3696 codifies and articulates the Department of Homeland Security’s role in cybersecurity, including through the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center. HR 2952 establishes a DHS clearinghouse for critical infrastructure security technology, HR3107 requires DHS to set occupation classifications for cybersecurity and conduct a cybersecurity workforce assessment, and HR 3635 prohibits a federal agency from deploying or making available to the public a new Federal PII website until a certification is submitted to Congress that the website is fully functional and secure. DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson praised the passage of McCaul’s bill stating that it is “a positive step forward for our nation’s cybersecurity.”

The vote puts pressure on the Senate to bring their own cybersecurity legislation to the floor when they return in September. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) has advanced legislation to codify and authorize DHS’ national cybersecurity operations center (S 2519), boost the recruitment and training of cyber-workers (S 2354), and update the Federal Information Security Modernization Act (S 2521). HSGAC Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) said that his bills are relatively non-controversial and could be considered on the Senate floor under a unanimous consent agreement. Carper also said that he has had preliminary discussions with Senate Intelligence Committee leaders about whether his committee will hold a markup of their Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (S 2588), but a decision has not yet been made.

Gillibrand Cybersecurity Bill

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced a Cyber Information Sharing Tax Credit Act this week. The bill would amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow a refundable tax credit for companies to offset costs of joining and participating in sector-specific Information Sharing and Analysis Organizations (ISACs). Gillibrand hopes that the bill can move either as a standalone bill or a package with other legislation later this year.

A copy of Sen. Gillibrand’s bill can be found at:

http://www.vantagepointstrat.com/?p=240

Federal Contractors

The President signed an executive order this week that will require prospective federal contractors to disclose labor law violations, and will give agencies more guidance on how to consider labor violations when awarding federal contracts. The new process is structured to encourage companies to settle existing disputes. The order also ensures that workers are given the necessary information each pay period to verify the accuracy of their paycheck. And workers who may have been sexually assaulted or had their civil rights violated would “get their day in court.” The order applies to contractors with more than $500,000, and could affect 24,000 businesses employing 28 million workers.

A copy of the executive order can be found at:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/07/31/executive-order-fair-pay-and-safe-workplaces

Political Updates

Rep. Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) last day as House Majority Leader was on Thursday. He then announced that he would also resign from Congress, effective August 18. He asked Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe to hold a special election for his seat on Election Day (November 4) so his successor could be sworn in immediately. Dave Brat, a Tea Party-backed professor who beat Cantor in the Republican primary in June, responded that if elected he would be ready to serve beginning November 5.

Elana Broitman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy at the Department of Defense (DoD) announced this week that she is stepping down next month to spend more time with her family in New York. Prior to joining DoD, Broitman spent 10 years on Capitol Hill, most recently as a senior advisor to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and 9 years in private industry.

The Senate has confirmed Laura Junor to be Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. Nominated for the post in February, Junor has been the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness since 2011.

The Senate confirmed by voice vote Brian McKeon as Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. McKeon is currently Deputy Assistant to the President, Executive Secretary of the National Security Council, and Chief of Staff for the National Security Staff at the White House, a position he has held since 2012. His nomination initially faced some criticism from Republicans over whether he was aware of Russia’s potential violations of a nuclear treaty.

Suzy George will be named executive secretary and chief of staff of the National Security Council, stepping in to replace Brian McKeon, who was confirmed yesterday to be undersecretary of Defense. National Security Adviser Susan Rice announced George’s position praising her experience at the State Department and most recently as a principal at the Albright Stonebridge Group consulting firm.

President Obama announced that Jonathan “Jon” Samuels will leave the White House this week after six years in Legislative Affairs. Alejandro Perez replaces him as Deputy Assistant to the President and House Liaison, reporting to White House Legislative Director Katie Beirne Fallon. Perez has been in the in White House Legislative Affairs office since 2009 serving as the liaison to House Ways and Means and Education committees, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Before joining the White House, Perez was House floor director, as senior staff member to Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD). Perez was also the executive director of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and worked for Catholic Charities, Immigration Counseling Services in Dallas, the Austin-Travis County Office of Refugee Services, and the United Farm Workers in Austin.

DoD Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that Dabney Kern has been appointed director for policy, plans and requirements in the White House Military Office. Kern had been vice president for homeland and defense services at CACI International.

The Chief of Staff of the Army announced this week that Maj. Gen. Stephen Fogarty will take over as commanding general of the Cyber Center of Excellence (COE) and Fort Gordon, GA. Fogarty most recently served as commanding general of the US Army Intelligence and Security Command at Ft Belvoir, VA. The Cyber COE is the Army’s force modernization proponent for Cyberspace Operations, Signal/Communications Networks and Information Services, and Electronic Warfare (EW) and is responsible for developing related doctrine, organizational, training, materiel, leadership/education, personnel, and facility solutions.

A Florida judge has asked the state legislature to redraw the state’s congressional map by August 15, posing the possibility that Florida could postpone some or all of its House elections until after the scheduled general election on November 4. The judge ruled last month that the Republican-controlled legislature violated the state constitution by taking politics into consideration when drawing two of the state’s 27 congressional districts after the 2010 Census. After the revised map is submitted the judge will “consider additional evidence as to the legal and logistical obstacles to holding delayed elections for affected districts in 2014.”

Next Week

The House and Senate are in recess until the week of September 8. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said yesterday that he plans to bring up the following bills when they return in September: FY15 appropriations bills, FY15 National Defense Authorization Act, the Internet Tax Freedom Act, the Export-Import Bank, campaign finance reform and minimum wage, Hobby Lobby, and college affordability/student debt. Reid also said that Senators should expect to work weekends in September – “every day between September 8 and September 30 is fair game” for being in session.

Washington Weekly – July 25, 2014

July 25, 2014 

This week the House passed HR 3136, the Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act; HR 4984, the Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act; HR 3393, the Student and Family Tax Simplification Act; HR 4935, the Child Tax Credit Improvement Act of 2014; HR 5111, a bill to improve the response to victims of child sex trafficking; and HR 5081, the Strengthening Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act of 2014. The White House issued a veto threat for HR 4935. The Senate approved a number of judicial nominations and confirmed Lisa Disbrow to be an Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, Victor Mendez to be Deputy Secretary of Transportation, Peter Rogoff to be Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy, and Bruce Andrews to be Deputy Secretary of Commerce. The Senate also invoked cloture on S 2569, the Bring Jobs Home Act, a bill that would give businesses tax breaks for bringing jobs back to the US.

Appropriations

Emergency Supplemental

With action stalled on the FY15 appropriations process, Congress’ attention this week turned to the President’s emergency supplemental request. Two weeks ago the White House submitted a $3.7 billion emergency supplemental spending request to Congress. The request included $1.1 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, $433 million for Customs and Border Protection, $64 million for the Department of Justice for additional immigration judge teams, $300 million for the State Department and other international programs to support repatriation and reintegration efforts in Central America, and $1.8 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services to provide care for unaccompanied children. The request was in response to the backlog of deportation cases that has built as more than 50,000 unaccompanied minors have entered the country illegally this fiscal year.

This week Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) released S 2649, a bill providing $2.7 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations. Of that amount, $1.2 billion would go to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The remaining $1.5 billion would go to the Departments of Homeland Security ($1.1B), State, and Justice. Within DHS, ICE would receive $702 million, CBP would receive $291 million, and together they would receive $112 million. The bill also includes $225 million for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense program and $615 million in emergency firefighting funds for wildfires. The Senate proposal does not include any immigration legislation policy changes, nor does it provide any funding offsets. A copy of the Senate proposal can be found at:

http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/sites/default/files/DRAFT2014%20Bill.PDF

The House was expected to release a $1.5 billion fully offset measure this week, but that has been delayed until next week. In the meantime, Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), Chair of the House Border Crisis Working Group did release her group’s recommendations on border security and immigration:

http://kaygranger.house.gov/press-release/granger-releases-border-crisis-working-group-recommendations

It is expected that the House will not include any funding for HHS in its emergency supplemental. Therefore, what is lining up to be the most contentious aspect of the legislation is over how to ease the financial strain for the HHS. House Republicans want to change a 2008 anti-trafficking law that will allow Central American children to self-deport, which they believe will help stem the tide of unaccompanied minors arriving at the border. Some Democrats may be willing to consider these changes, while others believe in moving a funding-only supplemental with no policy changes.

FY15 Continuing Resolution and Omnibus

The House has passed seven of its 12 annual appropriations bills, but action in the Senate stalled when they attempted to consider their first three-bill minibus on the floor but could not reach agreement on amendments. This week House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) said that the House would vote on a short-term continuing resolution (CR) when they return in September. The CR will likely fund the government through early December when the lame-duck Congress will either pass an omnibus measure or another CR in to 2015. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) wanted to pass a CR prior to the August recess, but Boehner said that the legislation would have to wait. It is unclear whether the House CR would fund the government in FY15 at FY14 levels or the lowest funding level in any FY15 bill that has seen action in committee or on the floor.

The Senate this week released three FY15 spending bills– Labor HHS Education, Financial Services, and Energy and Water. There is likely to be no further action on these three bills in the Senate, so Senate appropriators may have released the bill text and report language as a way to lay down markers for negotiations later this year with the House over an omnibus measure. Or their action could have been to set spending levels for the likely CR. All three bills were approved in subcommittee, but not in full committee. The Senate does not usually release bill text and report language until after full committee markup. The only bill text and language that has not been released in the Senate is the FY15 Interior Appropriations bill.

FY15 Senate Energy and Water Appropriations

Bill Text

http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/sites/default/files/E%26W%20Bill%2087223.PDF

Report Language http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/sites/default/files/E%26W%20Report%20w%20Chart%2010REPT.PDF

FY15 Senate Labor HHS Education Appropriations

Bill Text

http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/sites/default/files/LHHS%20Bill%2087259.pdf

Report Language http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/sites/default/files/LHHS%20Report%20w%20Chart%2007REPT.PDF

FY15 Senate Financial Services Appropriations

Bill Text

http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/sites/default/files/FSGG%20Bill%2087225.pdf

Report Language http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/sites/default/files/FSGG%20Report%20w%20Chart%2003REPT.PDF

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 15

Full Committee: July 17

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

Full Committee: June 18

House Floor: July 10

Subcommittee: June 17

Full Committee: postponed

Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee: June 18

Full Committee: June 25

Floor: July 16

Subcommittee: June 24
Homeland Security Subcommittee: May 28

Full Committee: June 11

Subcommittee: June 24

Full Committee: June 26

Interior Subcommittee: July 9

Full Committee: July 15

 
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 Affairs Reform

Negotiations between the House and Senate on legislation to reform veterans health care got a little heated this week and appeared to be unraveling. It is unclear if Congress will be able to come to agreement and pass legislation before they adjourn at the end of next week for the August recess. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL) floated an alternative proposal on Thursday that was perceived by Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernard Sanders (I-VT) as negotiating in bad faith. Miller’s compromise bill did not include language authorizing emergency mandatory funding that was requested by Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson at a July 16 Senate VA Committee hearing. Gibson requested an additional $17.6 billion over three years to hire 10,000 more health care professionals, expand facilities, and modernize information technology. Gibson’s request for additional funding came after the House and Senate had passed their bills and conferees were appointed. Sanders had proposed earlier this week a bill that would cost $25 billion and included $3.3 billion in offsets from other programs within his committee’s jurisdiction. Miller originally held that the bill needed a pay-for, but conceded this week that he may be willing to consider a deal that is not totally offset in cost. Negotiations are continuing over the weekend.

National Defense Authorization Act

The House passed its FY15 National Defense Authorization Act (HR 4435) on May 22. The Senate reported its bill (S 2410) out of committee on June 2, but has not considered the bill on the Senate floor due to procedural disputes. It was reported this week that House and Senate Armed Services Committee staff are starting preliminary discussions (pre conferencing) with each other despite no action in the Senate.

Homeland Security

9/11 Commission Report

This week marked the 10-year anniversary of the original 9/11 Commission Report. On the anniversary, former commission members released Reflections on the Tenth Anniversary of The 9/11 Commission Report. Commission members stated that the struggle against terrorism is far from over and that the landscape has changed dramatically over the 10 years. They laid out several recommendations encompassing policy changes and budgetary suggestions to remedy their concerns. Their recommendations include:

  • To sustain public support for policies and resource levels, national security leaders must communicate to the public – in specific terms – what the threat is, how it is evolving, what measures are being taken to address it, why those measures are necessary, and what specific protections are in place to protect civil liberties. In this era of heightened skepticism, platitudes will not persuade the public. Leaders should describe the threat and the capabilities they need with as much granularity as they can safely offer.
  • Congress and the President should revise the September 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force. The administration should clearly explain (1) whether it needs new legal authority to confront threats like ISIS and (2) how far, in its view, any new authority should extend.
  • Reiterating what they said in The 9/11 Commission Report: Congress should oversee and legislate for Department of Homeland Security through one primary authorizing committee. DHS should receive the same streamlined oversight as the Department of Defense. At the very minimum, the next Congress should sharply reduce the number of committees and subcommittees with some jurisdiction over the department. These changes should take effect when the next Congress convenes, and the House and Senate adopt new rules in January. Planning should begin now to make this possible.
  • Government officials should explain to the public — in clear, specific terms — the severity of the cyber threat and what the stakes are for the country. Public and private-sector leaders should also explain what private citizens and businesses can do to protect their systems and data.

A copy of the report can be found at:

http://bipartisanpolicy.org/sites/default/files/%20BPC%209-11%20Commission.pdf

House Passes Homeland Security Legislation on Transportation Security

The House unanimously passed bipartisan legislation this week that would address security concerns at airports (HR 4802), provide oversight of TSA’s Office of Inspection (HR 4803), and simplify travel for veterans (HR 4812). HR 4802, the Airport Security Enhancement Act of 2014 improves intergovernmental planning for and communication during security incidents at domestic airports. HR 4803, the TSA Office of Inspection Accountability Act of 2014 requires TSA to conform to existing Federal law and regulations regarding criminal investigator positions. And, HR 4812, the Honor Flight Act establishes a process for providing expedited and dignified passenger screening services for veterans traveling to visit war memorials built and dedicated to honor their service. The bills were considered and passed on the House floor on the Suspension Calendar.

Cybersecurity

There was talk this week that House leadership may soon bring up three cybersecurity bills for a vote on the House floor. The bills are Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul’s (R-TX) National Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection Act (HR 3696), Rep. Patrick Meehan’s (R-PA) Critical Infrastructure Research and Development Advancement Act (HR 2952), and Rep. Yvette Clarke’s (D-NY) Homeland Security Cybersecurity Boots-on-the-Ground Act (HR 3107).

HR 3696 codifies and articulates the Department of Homeland Security’s role in cybersecurity, including through the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center. HR 2952 establishes a DHS clearinghouse for critical infrastructure security technology, and HR3107 requires DHS to set occupation classifications for cybersecurity and conduct a cybersecurity workforce assessment. These bills could be on next week’s House suspension calendar.

House Leadership first needed to resolve the issue of jurisdiction over federal civilian networks, language that was removed from HR 3696. Leadership may also add language from Rep. Kerry Bentivolio’s (R-MI) Safe and Secure Federal Websites Act (HR 3635), which mandates that federal sites that collect personally identifiable information be certified as functional and secure.

If the House bills are passed, the Senate could feel some pressure to act on S 2521, the Federal Information Security Modernization Act (FISMA) of 2014 and S 2519, the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) Act of 2014, which were passed out of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee in late June. These Senate bills could offer a vehicle for conference with the cybersecurity legislation from the House.

Federal Contractors

The President signed two executive orders (EO) this week prohibiting federal contractors from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The first EO expands upon a memorandum issued by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965 that prohibited federal contractors from discriminating “against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex or national origin,” to include sexual orientation and gender identity. The order did not carve out an exception for religiously affiliated contractors and instead pointed to an EO issued by President George W. Bush that allows federal contractors to consider an applicant’s religion when hiring. The Professional Services Council noted that most federal contractors have already barred discrimination based on sexual orientation. The second EO expands previous guidance issued by President Bill Clinton that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation, updating it to add prohibiting discrimination based on an individual’s gender identity.

The Executive Order can be viewed at:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/07/21/executive-order-further-amendments-executive-order-11478-equal-employmen

Congressional Schedule

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) released an updated scheduled for the Senate this week. The Senate will return from the August recess on Monday, September 8, 2014. Target adjournment date for the early fall session will be Tuesday, September 23 (the day before Rosh Hashanah). There is a possibility that the Senate would return the week of September 29 if needed to process any unfinished must-pass legislation or nominations. The House is also scheduled to return from the August recess on Monday September 8. However, the House will not be in session the week of September 22 and has a target adjournment date of October 2.

Political Updates

Businessman David Perdue won the Republican Senate primary runoff in Georgia this week defeating Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA). Perdue, the former CEO of Reebok and Dollar General, won 50.9% to 49.1% despite Kingston’s endorsement by the US Chamber of Commerce. Perdue will face Democratic candidate Michelle Nunn in the general election this fall. Perdue’s cousin Sonny was a two-term governor, and Nunn’s father, Sam, was a four-term US senator. Kingston is currently the Chair of the House Labor HHS Education Appropriations subcommittee. His departure at the end of the year puts the third appropriations subcommittee chairmanship up for grabs next year. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), Chair of the Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations subcommittee and Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA), Chair of the Transportation HUD appropriations subcommittee are both retiring at the end of this year.

Madelyn Creedon was confirmed by the Senate this week to be Principal Deputy Administrator at the National Nuclear Security Administration, the number two position in the semi-autonomous branch of the Energy Department. Creedon will work directly under Energy Undersecretary for Nuclear Security Frank Klotz assisting in the management of the US atomic weapons complex and working on Energy policy initiatives in support of the administration’s nuclear nonproliferation goals.

The Senate also confirmed Lisa Disbrow to be an Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, Victor Mendez to be Deputy Secretary of Transportation, Peter Rogoff to be Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy, and Bruce Andrews to be Deputy Secretary of Commerce.

Cristin Dorgelo was named Chief of Staff for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) replacing Rick Siger, whose new role will be announced in the coming weeks. Dorgelo was most recently the assistant director for grand challenges at OSTP, and was previously an executive at the nonprofit XPRIZE.

Melanie Kaye, Director of Communications to Dr. Jill Biden departed the White House this week and was replaced by James Gleeson, who most recently worked as Communications Director for Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA). Before that, Gleeson was an Account Manager for a political consulting firm in Denver, CO and a Legislative Aide in the Colorado State House.

President Obama nominated Chip Fulghum to be DHS Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Fulghum currently serves as the Budget Director in the Office of the CFO at DHS, a position he has held since 2012. And he has served as Acting CFO from 2013 to 2014. Fulghum served for 28 years in the US Air Force from 1984 to 2012 retiring with the rank of Colonel. From 2010 to 2012, he was Director of Air Force Budget Programs, and from 2008 to 2010 he was CFO for Air Education and Training Command at Randolph Air Force Base.

The President also nominated Stephen Burns and Jeff Baran to be Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) commissioners. Burns was a career NRC employee and by the time he left the agency for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Nuclear Energy Agency in 2012 he had become the NRC’s general counsel. Baran is an adviser to Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and the staff director on energy and environment issues for the Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The nominees are filling seats vacated when Obama declined to re-nominate George Apostolakis for another term at the NRC, and one that Commissioner William Magwood will depart at the end of August. If confirmed, Baran would fill Magwood’s seat, which expires on June 30, 2015, while Burns’ term wouldn’t expire until June 30, 2019.

Willie May was nominated by the President this week for the position of Under Secretary for Standards and Technology at the Department of Commerce. May currently serves as the Associate Director for Laboratory Programs at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the Department of Commerce, a position he has held since 2011.

Therese McMillan was nominated by the President to fill the position of Federal Transit Administrator at the Department of Transportation. McMillan is currently Deputy Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), a position she has held since 2009.

Larry Zelvin announced this week that he is stepping down as the director of DHS’ National Cyber and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) in the middle of August. Zelvin is leaving after almost 30 years in government and is heading to the private sector (possibly Citibank). Greg Touhill, the deputy assistant secretary for Cybersecurity Operations and Programs, will be the interim NCCIC director until DHS hires a permanent replacement for Zelvin.

Next Week

The House will consider four endangered species bills: HR 4315, the 21st Century Endangered Species Transparency Act; HR 4316, the Endangered Species Recovery Transparency Act; HR 4317, the State, Tribal, and Local Species Transparency and Recovery Act; and HR 4318, the Endangered Species Litigation Reasonableness Act. The House will also consider H Res 676, a resolution providing for authority to initiate litigation for actions by the President or other executive branch officials inconsistent with their duties under the Constitution of the United States. The House may also consider legislation to deal with the ongoing crisis on the border.

The Senate will resume consideration of S 2569, the Bring Jobs Home Act, but passage is unlikely as Republicans filed amendments to the bill that are related to coal regulations and employer contributions for health care. The Senate will also vote on a number of nominations including that of Robert McDonald to be Secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department. The Senate may take up S 5021, the Highway and Transportation Funding Act, which provides nearly $11 billion to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent until next May. Senate leaders reached an agreement that would allow the Senate to vote on the bill after considering four amendments, all of which would be subject to a 60-vote threshold for passage. One of the amendments would shorten the duration of the bill so that it extends only through December of this year, forcing Congress to revisit the issue during a lame duck session. The other three amendments would make slight changes in offsets; shift responsibility for transportation projects to the states while cutting the federal gasoline tax; and ease environmental reviews and permitting rules for some projects.