Washington Weekly – November 21, 2014

November 21, 2014

The House this week passed three bills that would change Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules: HR 1422, the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act (modifies the process for choosing members of the EPA’s Science Advisory Board); HR 4012, the Secret Science Reform Act of 2014 (requires EPA to publicly release all of the data it uses to justify regulations); and HR 4795, the Promoting New Manufacturing Act (changes requirements on EPA air regulations). The Senate passed S 1086, the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014, sending it to the President for his signature. The Senate then took up S 2280, a bill to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, but failed to get the 60 votes needed for passage as the final vote was 59 to 41. The Senate also fell short of the 60 needed votes for S 2685, the USA Freedom Act.

Immigration Reform

President Obama unveiled his Immigration Accountability Executive Actions last night. The actions will extend the “surge of resources” to protect the border and expand the existing deferred action program for undocumented immigrants. More specifically, the Executive Actions are as follows:

Strengthen Border Security

DHS will implement a Southern Border and Approaches Campaign Strategy that will employ three task forces of various law enforcement agencies. The first will focus on the southern maritime border. The second will be responsible for the southern land border and the West Coast. The third will focus on investigations to support the other two task forces. In addition, DHS will continue the surge of resources including additional Border Patrol agents, ICE personnel, criminal investigators, additional monitors, and working with DOJ to reorder dockets in immigration courts, along with reforms in these courts.

Link to Executive Action: http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/14_1120_memo_southern_border_campaign_plan.pdf

Revise Removal Priorities

DHS will implement a new department-wide enforcement and removal policy that places top priority on national security threats, convicted felons, gang members, and illegal entrants apprehended at the border; the second-tier priority on those convicted of significant or multiple misdemeanors and those who are not apprehended at the border, but who entered or reentered this country unlawfully after January 1, 2014; and the third priority on those who are non-criminals but who have failed to abide by a final order of removal issued on or after January 1, 2014. Under this revised policy, those who entered illegally prior to January 1, 2014, who never disobeyed a prior order of removal, and were never convicted of a serious offense, will not be priorities for removal. This policy also provides clear guidance on the exercise of prosecutorial discretion.

Link to Executive Action:

http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/14_1120_memo_prosecutorial_discretion.pdf

End Secure Communities and Replace it with New Priority Enforcement Program

DHS will end the Secure Communities program, and replace it with the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP). The program will continue to rely on fingerprint-based biometric data submitted during bookings by state and local law enforcement agencies and will identify to law enforcement agencies the specific criteria for which DHS will seek an individual in their custody. The list of largely criminal offenses is taken from Priorities 1 and 2 of DHS’ new enforcement priorities. In addition, DHS will formulate plans to engage state and local governments on enforcement priorities and will enhance Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) ability to arrest, detain, and remove individuals deemed threats to national security, border security, or public safety.

Link to Executive Action:

http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/14_1120_memo_secure_communities.pdf

Personnel Reform for ICE Officers

Related to these enforcement and removal reforms, DHS will support job series realignment and premium ability pay coverage for ICE ERO officers engaged in removal operations bringing ICE agents and officers pay in line with other law enforcement personnel.

Link to Executive Action:

http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/14_1120_memo_pay_reform_ice_officers.pdf

Expand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program

DHS will expand eligibility for DACA to encompass a broader class of children. DACA eligibility was limited to those who were under 31 years of age on June 15, 2012, who entered the U.S. before June 15, 2007, and who were under 16 years old when they entered. DACA eligibility will be expanded to cover all undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. before the age of 16, and not just those born after June 15, 1981. They will also adjust the entry date from June 15, 2007 to January 1, 2010. The relief (including work authorization) will now last for three years rather than two.

Link to Executive Action:

http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/14_1120_memo_deferred_action.pdf

Extend Deferred Action to Parents of U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents

DHS will extend eligibility for deferred action to individuals who (i) are not removal priorities under their new policy, (ii) have been in this country at least 5 years, (iii) have children who on the date of this announcement are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, and (iv) present no other factors that would make a grant of deferred action inappropriate. These individuals will be assessed for eligibility for deferred action on a case-by-case basis, and then be permitted to apply for work authorization, provided they pay a fee. Each individual will undergo a thorough background check of all relevant national security and criminal databases, including DHS and FBI databases. With work-authorization, these individuals will pay taxes and contribute to the economy.

Link to Executive Action:

http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/14_1120_memo_deferred_action.pdf

Expand Provisional Waivers to Spouses and Children of Lawful Permanent Residents

The provisional waiver program DHS announced in January 2013 for undocumented spouses and children of U.S. citizens will be expanded to include the spouses and children of lawful permanent residents, as well as the adult children of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. At the same time, DHS will further clarify the “extreme hardship” standard that must be met to obtain the waiver.

Link to Executive Action:

http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/14_1120_memo_i601a_waiver.pdf

Revise Parole Rules

DHS will begin rulemaking to identify the conditions under which talented entrepreneurs should be paroled into the United States, on the ground that their entry would yield a significant public economic benefit. DHS will also support the military and its recruitment efforts by working with the Department of Defense to address the availability of parole-in-place and deferred action to spouses, parents, and children of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents who seek to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces. DHS will also issue guidance to clarify that when anyone is given “advance parole” to leave the country – including those who obtain deferred action – they will not be considered to have departed. Undocumented aliens generally trigger a 3- or 10-year bar to returning to the United States when they depart.

Link to Executive Actions:

http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/14_1120_memo_business_actions.pdf

http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/14_1120_memo_parole_in_place.pdf

http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/14_1120_memo_arrabally.pdf

Promote the Naturalization Process

To promote access to U.S. citizenship, DHS will permit the use of credit cards as a payment option for the naturalization fee, and expand citizenship public awareness. The naturalization fee is $680, currently payable only by cash, check or money order. DHS will also explore the feasibility of expanding fee waiver options.

Link to Executive Action:

http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/14_1120_memo_naturalization.pdf

Support High-skilled Business and Workers

DHS will take a number of administrative actions to enable U.S. businesses to hire and retain highly skilled foreign-born workers and strengthen and expand opportunities for students to gain on-the-job training. They will amend current regulations and make other administrative changes to provide flexibility to workers with approved employment-based green card petitions.

Link to Executive Action:

http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/14_1120_memo_business_actions.pdf

CBO Scores Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2014

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released their scoring analysis of S 2588, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) of 2014. CBO estimates that implementing the bill would have a discretionary cost of about $20 million over the 2015-2019 period. Their official cost estimate on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s information sharing bill largely comes from personnel costs. The staffing needed to administer the program and manage the exchange of information between government and the private sector would cost about $4 million annually. The CBO analysis can be found at: https://www.cbo.gov/publication/49791

National Defense Authorization Act

The FY15 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is considered must-pass legislation, however there are a few remaining outstanding issues that could affect the timing of its consideration. Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) said that it is his hope that a conference report can be finalized and passed by both chambers during the first week of December.

The first outstanding issue is the disagreement over whether to increase pharmacy copays for the non-active duty beneficiaries of TRICARE. The language originated as a proposal from DOD to help control the costs of their defense health care spending. The proposal would raise the copays for generics next year from $6 to $7 and then to $9 by 2017. The SASC included a provision in its bill to allow for the increase, but the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) bill doesn’t address the issue at all. HASC Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) opposes the inclusion of this provision in the final NDAA conference report while SASC Chairman Levin insists on its inclusion as well as a provision to reduce troop housing benefits. SASC republicans are siding with their chairman on this issue.

Another issue to be resolved is the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), which was included in the HASC NDAA. The Senate doesn’t like FITARA the way it is currently written, and the Department of Defense (DOD) wants to be exempted from the requirements in FITARA as they claim they are already doing many of these things administratively such as data center consolidation. The SASC bill includes a provision to change the role of the DOD Deputy Chief Management Officer to improve the way DOD purchases IT systems and services, which could possibly conflict with the House FITARA language. While the FITARA provision may not make it into the final bill, there could be some final language on IT acquisition reform.

There are also a few unresolved issues around contracting, including language that extends the test program for negotiation of comprehensive small business subcontracting plans. The final conference report may extend the current requirement for two years rather than three as proposed by the House, and add some reporting requirements. And there is some House language that would increase small business participation goals from 23% to 25%. There is no language in the Senate on this issue.

And finally, they’ll have to work out language from the House bill that would require a cost comparison of services from contractors vs. in-house. Congress could use this information to say that DOD is using contractors too often for inherently governmental functions.

House Democratic Leadership Elections

House democrats held their leadership elections this week reelecting Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as Minority Leader for another two years. Pelosi was unopposed in the election. Democrats also reelected Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) as Minority Whip, Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) as Democratic Caucus chairman, Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) as caucus vice chairman, and Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) as assistant to the leader. Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Donna Edwards (D-MD) were appointed as co-chairwomen of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. Minority Leader Pelosi also named Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) to serve as the next Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair.

House Committee Chairs

The House Republican Steering Committee made its official recommendations for House committee chairmanships for the 114th Congress and the whole House Republican conference ratified the recommendations this week. The House democratic caucus also approved their ranking democrats for the next Congress. The committee chairmen and ranking democrats for the 114th Congress are as follows:

Committee Chairman Ranking Democrat
Agriculture Michael Conaway, TX Collin Peterson, MN
Appropriations Harold Rogers, KY Nita Lowey, NY
Armed Services Mac Thornberry, TX Adam Smith, WA
Budget Tom Price, GA Chris Van Hollen, MD
Education and the Workforce John Kline, MN Bobby Scott, VA
Energy and Commerce Fred Upton, MI Frank Pallone, NJ
Ethics Charlie Dent, PA Linda Sanchez, CA
Financial Services Jeb Hensarling, TX Maxine Waters, CA
Foreign Affairs Ed Royce, CA Eliot Engel, NY
Homeland Security Michael McCaul, TX Bennie Thompson, MS
House Administration Candice Miller, MI Bob Brady, PA
Intelligence Devin Nunes, CA Dutch Ruppersberger, MD* (term limited, waiver?)
Judiciary Robert Goodlatte, VA John Conyers, MI
Natural Resources Rob Bishop, UT Raul Grijalva, AZ
Oversight and Government Reform Jason Chaffetz, UT Elijah Cummings, MD
Rules Pete Sessions, TX Louise Slaughter, NY
Science, Space, and Technology Lamar Smith, TX Eddie Bernice Johnson, TX
Small Business Steve Chabot, OH Nydia Velazquez, NY
Transportation and Infrastructure Bill Shuster, PA Peter DeFazio, OR
Veterans’ Affairs Jeff Miller, FL Corrine Brown, FL
Ways and Means Paul Ryan, WI Sander Levin, MI

Over in the Senate, decisions on chairmen and ranking democrats will wait until after the Dec. 6 runoff in Louisiana.

House Appropriations Cardinals and New Republican Members

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) announced this week that the Republican Steering Committee approved the 12 Appropriations Subcommittee Chairs (or “Cardinals”) for the 114th Congress.

The Subcommittee Chairs are as follows:

Agriculture and Rural Development – Robert Aderholt, AL

Commerce, Justice, and Science – John Culberson, TX

Defense – Rodney Frelinghuysen, NJ

Energy and Water Development – Mike Simpson, ID

Financial Services – Ander Crenshaw, FL

Homeland Security – John Carter, TX

Interior, Environment – Ken Calvert, CA

Labor, Health and Human Services, Education – Tom Cole, OK

Legislative Branch – Tom Graves, GA

Military Construction, Veterans Affairs – Charles Dent, PA

State, Foreign Operations – Kay Granger, TX

Transportation, Housing and Urban Development – Mario Diaz-Balart, FL

The House Republican Steering Committee also approved four new Republican Members to serve on the House Appropriations Committee in the 114th Congress:

Rep. David Jolly (FL-13)

Rep. Scott Rigell (VA-02)

Rep. Evan Jenkins (WV-03)

Rep. David Young (IA-03)

2015 Schedules

The House and Senate have released their schedules for the first session of the 114th Congress. Both convene on January 6 and have target adjournment dates of December 18.

The Senate calendar can be found at:

http://www.vantagepointstrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Senate-Schedule-2015.pdf

The House calendar can be found at:

http://www.majorityleader.gov/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/114thCongressFirstSession.pdf

Next Week

The House and Senate are both in recess next week and will reconvene on December 1.

Washington Weekly – November 14, 2014

November 14, 2014 

The House and Senate returned to DC after the mid-term election recess. The House passed HR 4194, the Government Reports Elimination Act of 2014 and HR 5682, a bill approving the Keystone XL Pipeline. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) announced that the House will convene for the 114th Congress on January 6, 2015. And he confirmed that the targeted adjournment date for the 113th Congress is Dec. 11. The Senate approved a few judicial nominations and voted to invoke cloture on S1086, the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2013.

Leadership Elections

This week Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was elected Senate majority leader and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) was elected Senate minority leader for the 114th Congress, which convenes in January. McConnell was elected as GOP leader without dissent, while Reid received several no votes including Sens. McCaskill (D-MO), Warner (D-VA), Manchin (D-WV), and Kaine (D-VA). Republican senators chose Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) as chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee for the 2016 cycle while democrats chose Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) as chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was appointed as Senior Policy Advisor to the Democratic Policy and Communications Center, a newly created Senate leadership post. And Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-WI) was elected as chairwoman of Steering and Outreach.

The House Republican Conference voted to keep Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) as speaker of the House (his third term), and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was re-elected as majority leader. The votes came in as a secret ballot of the GOP caucus on Thursday. The full House must approve the GOP’s choice by a majority vote in January. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) won a full-term as Republican Whip in the next Congress and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) won her second term as chairwoman of the House Republican Conference. House Republicans also selected Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) as Republican Policy Committee chairman. And Speaker Boehner announced today that he selected Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) to remain as chairman in the House Rules Committee in the next Congress. House Republicans also passed a party rule that a chairman must give up their gavel if they announce their intention to run for another office.

FY15 Appropriations

House and Senate Appropriations Chairmen Harold Rogers (R-KY) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) have directed their staffs to have a detailed, line-by-line omnibus spending plan ready for floor action by the week of Dec. 8. While some more conservative republicans may be pushing for a shorter-term spending deal, appropriations staff insist that a continuing resolution (CR) is not part of the leadership discussions. The current CR epxires on Dec. 11, so Congress needs to take action before then in order to avoid a government shutdown. House Republicans may wait on moving the omnibus bill potentially using it as a vehicle to limit any executive orders from President Obama on immigration reform. Sen. Mikulski has warned that any immigration provisions would be a deal-breaker for an omnibus. If the Senate opposes an omnibus with immigration riders attached, the House may then opt for a clean, short-term continuing resolution funding the government into the new Congress when republicans have the majority in the Senate.

The Obama Administration requested an additional $5.6 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) activities for Operation Inherent Resolve, the military campaign focused on defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The request includes $1.6 billion to establish an Iraq Train and Equip Fund (ITEF) to train and support approximately 12 Iraqi and Kurdish brigades, as well as an additional $520 million for State Department-related operations. This proposed OCO funding is in addition to the $58.6 billion Department of Defense OCO request sent to the Congress in June as these activities and operations were not anticipated at the time that request was submitted. Some Republicans were critical of the request questioning if it was large enough and whether all of it should be considered emergency funding, but stopped short of opposing it. The details of the request can be found at:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/budget_amendments/amendment_11_10_14.pdf

Department of Defense Nuclear Enterprise Review

Today Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced a comprehensive action plan to reform the nuclear enterprise and called for additional investments in sustainment as well as measures to address longstanding cultural issues. This announcement follows a series of missteps involving the nation’s nuclear forces and their leadership after which Secretary Hagel called for both an internal and external review of the entire Department of Defense nuclear enterprise. Together, the two reviews identified more than 100 recommendations to improve the nuclear deterrent forces. They focus on several key areas, including: oversight, investment, and personnel and training. Their recommendations range from acquisition investments that will cost several billion dollars over the five-year defense spending program. The Department will prioritize funding on actions that improve the security and sustainment of the current force, ensure that modernization of the force remains on track, and address shortfalls that are undermining the morale of the force.

Link to External Independent Review:

http://www.defense.gov/pubs/Independent-Nuclear-Enterprise-Review-Report-30-June-2014.pdf

Link to Summary of Internal Nuclear Enterprise Review:

http://www.defense.gov/pubs/Summary-Internal-NER.pdf

Link to DOD Fact Sheet on Implementation:

http://www.defense.gov/pubs/NER-Fact-Sheet.pdf

Veterans Affairs Reorganization

The Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald announced a major restructuring of the department this week including creating a new VA-wide customer service office led by a Chief Customer Service Officer who will report directly to the Secretary. The reforms also include establishing new partnerships with a national network of Community Veteran Advisory Councils to coordinate better service delivery with local, state and community partners, and identifying opportunities for VA to realign its internal business processes into a shared services model in which organizations across VA leverage the same support services, to improve efficiency, reduce costs and increase productivity across VA. McDonald also confirmed that the department has taken disciplinary action against 5,600 employees and has plans to hire about 28,000 medical professionals around the country, including about 2,500 mental health professionals.

Senate Armed Services Committee

This week Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), the expected next chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) said that he plans to shake up the committee when he takes over as chairman in the 114th Congress. McCain is considering establishing one or two new subcommittees to better deal with cybersecurity and launch oversight investigations. Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) is poised to take over as the ranking democrat on the committee.

National Defense Authorization Act

Leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees met this week to negotiate the most contentious issues (which includes transfer of Guantanamo Bay prisoners, retiring 11 Navy cruisers, and retiring the A-10 Warthog attack jet) of the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act. Committee staff have been preparing an informal conference report that irons out the differences between the House passed bill and the Senate committee passed version. The conference report will be passed as stand-alone legislation in the House and Senate without amendments.

Political Updates

While Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) has not yet conceded, the Associated Press has called the race for Republican Dan Sullivan. Sullivan’s win would make the new 114th Congress majority in the Senate 53 republicans to 46 democrats. One more race will be decided in Louisiana after the runoff on Dec. 6.

The race between Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ) and republican challenger Martha McSally is heading towards a recount. One legal challenge has already been filed over provisional ballots. A full recount will take weeks. McSally currently has a 133 vote lead.

The House swore-in three newly elected members who were filling current vacancies – Congresswoman-Elect Alma Adams (D-NC), Congressman-Elect Donald Norcross (D-NJ), and Congressman-Elect David Brat (R-VA).

The President nominated Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken to become the next deputy secretary of state. If confirmed by the Senate, Blinken would replace William Burns who retired earlier this year. Previously, Blinken was Staff Director for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. In the Clinton Administration, he served on the National Security Council staff as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for European Affairs and as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Strategic Planning and Speechwriting. He also served as Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs at the Department of State.

The President also nominated Nicholas Rasmussen to be the director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), succeeding Matthew Olsen who stepped down this summer. Rasmussen is currently the Deputy Director of the NCTC, a position he has held since 2012. Rasmussen has also served on the National Security Council (NSC) staff, held senior policy and planning positions at NCTC, and served as Director for Regional Affairs in the Office of Combating Terrorism on the NSC staff. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper strongly endorsed the President’s nomination of Rasmussen.

Jeffery Baran, a current member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), was renominated for the position. Prior to becoming a member of the NRC, he served as Staff Director for Energy and Environment on the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce. Baran is serving out the term of Commissioner William Magwood IV, who stepped down in August to become director-general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Nuclear Energy Agency. The Senate confirmed Baran on a 56-44 vote in September.

Elissa Slotkin was nominated for Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. Slotkin is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, a position she has held since 2012. She has also held the position of Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Chief of Staff to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, and Senior Advisor for Middle East Transition at the Department of Defense. Slotkin has also worked at the Central Intelligence Agency and in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The President nominated Antonio Weiss to be Under Secretary for Domestic Finance at the Department of the Treasury. Weiss is the Global Head of Investment Banking for Lazard and is a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Economic Advisory Council of the Center for American Progress. He is Publisher of The Paris Review. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said that she would oppose Weiss’ nomination because of his past work with corporate inversions as he advised on Burger King’s acquisition of Canadian doughnut chain Tim Hortons.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency announced that Susan Gordon will become deputy director upon the retirement of current NGA deputy director Mike Rodrigue on December 31. Gordon, a 34-year veteran of the intelligence community, is currently the director of the CIA information operations center.

President Barack Obama has renominated Jeffery Baran to the NRC. Baran, a former aide to outgoing Rep. Henry Waxman, was confirmed by the Senate in September to fill in the remaining months of the term vacated by William Magwood. Baran’s current term expires June 30, 2015. He’s been nominated to fill in the remainder of NRC Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane’s term, which expires June 30, 2018 – not the seat he now occupies, which will become vacant on July 1 and would’ve expired in 2020 if he were reconfirmed to it.

And the White House finally withdrew the nomination of Jo Ann Rooney nomination to be Undersecretary of the Navy undersecretary. Rooney was nominated 14 months ago, but faced opposition from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) after Rooney said that rape and sexual assault should be prosecuted in the militarys chain of command. Rooney also clashed with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) who said he would not support her nomination. Rooney is a two-time college president who served as principal deputy undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness in 2011 and 2012. A new nominee for the Navy undersecretary position was not immediately announced.

Brendan Goode, the director of the Network Security Deployment division in the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications (CS&C) is leaving for the private sector. HIs last day will be Nov. 21. Danny Toler, the deputy director of the Federal Network Resilience division is being promoted to replace Goode.

Confirmation hearings for attorney general nomineee Loretta Lynch will likely wait until next year appeasing republicans who want to wait unitl they have the majority and freeing up the Senate Judiciary Committee to pursue enactment of the USA Freedom Act during the lame duck session. Overhaul of the domestic surveillance programs has been a priority for Senate Judiciary chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

Next Week

The House will take up HR 1422, the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2013; HR 4012, the Secret Science Reform Act of 2014; and HR 4795, the Promoting New Manufacturing Act. The Senate will resume consideration of S1086, the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2013. The Senate will also take up S2280, authorizing the Keystone XL Pipeline and S2685, the Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ensuring Effective Discipline Over Monitoring Act of 2014. Finally, the Senate could take up the USA Freedom Act as soon as next week, but the bill is still facing opposition from Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Senate Republican Whip.

Washington Weekly – November 7, 2014

November 7, 2014

Both the House and Senate were in recess this week.

Ebola Supplemental Funding Request

The World Health Organization reported this week that the number of suspected Ebola cases was at 13,042 and deaths were at 4,818. President Obama submitted to Congress a request for an additional $6.18 billion to contain and end the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and speed the development of treatments and vaccinations. This request will be a test of how Republicans will work with the Administration after making significant gains in the midterm elections and winning control of the Senate in the 114th Congress.

The request includes $4.64 billion for immediate needs, which is broken down as follows:

  • $2.43 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
    • $1.83 billion is for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
    • $333 million is for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund
    • $283 million for the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
    • $25 million for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • $1.98 billion for the US Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • $127 million for the Department of State
  • $112 million for the Department of Defense (DOD)

The administration also requested $1.54 billion in contingency funding of which $751 million is for HHS and $792 million is for USAID and the Department of State. Given the changing nature of the Ebola epidemic the Contingency Fund is requested to ensure that there are resources available to respond to the evolving situation.

The President requested that all of the funding be designated as emergency spending not requiring an offset, which may draw some opposition from conservative budget hawks during consideration. One potential vehicle for this funding is an FY15 omnibus appropriations bill that will be considered during the lame duck session.

More details on the Administration’s request can be found at:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/11/05/fact-sheet-emergency-funding-request-enhance-us-government-s-response-eb

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) Use-of-Force Authorization and Emergency Funding Request

President Obama said that he would seek Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) from Congress. The President will begin discussions on the topic with congressional leaders when they visit the White House today. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) has said that he would like the new 114th Congress to address this issue rather than the current Congress, so it is unclear if the AUMF will be considered during the lame duck session.

The president also plans to request an additional $3.2 billion in war funding for the fight against ISIL. The request will come as an amendment to the administration’s $58.6 billion request for FY15 Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding for the military. The funding will be used to replace munitions used in operations against ISIL extremists in Iraq and Syria, pay for the 12 teams of US military advisers that are working with Iraqi forces, and provide flying hours for intelligence and surveillance aircraft. US Central Command released an information sheet last month stating the cost of Navy munitions at $62 million, including $53 million for 47 Tomahawk cruise missiles. The emergency funding request may also provide at least $500 million to train and equip Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting the Sunni militants.

Political Updates

Vantage Point Strategies’ in-depth coverage of the 2014 midterm elections can be found at:

http://www.vantagepointstrat.com/?attachment_id=295

President Obama will replace departing Attorney General Eric Holder with Loretta Lynch the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. Lynch was confirmed by the Senate in 2000 and 2010 for her current position. She has also been a partner at Hogan & Hartson, and a member of the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of NY. Lynch earned both her BA and JD at Harvard. If confirmed as Attorney General, she will be the first African-American woman to hold the position, and it will be the first time in nearly 200 years that a president has nominated a US attorney general for Attorney General. While the President as asked that Lynch be confirmed as soon as possible, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the nomination should be considered in the new Congress.

The President nominated David Berteau to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for Logistics and Materiel Readiness. Berteau is currently Senior Vice President and Director of the National Security Program on Industry and Resources at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a position he has held since 2013. Berteau has also served as a Director at Clark & Weinstock, director of the National Security Studies Program at Syracuse University, Senior Vice President at SAIC, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Production and Logistics, and Chairman for the Defense Conversion Commission.

The President also nominated Leigh Bradley to be General Counsel at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Bradley is currently Director of the Standards of Conduct Office in the Office of the General Counsel at the Department of Defense (DOD), a position she has held since 2008. Since July 2014, she has served on detail from DOD to the Department of Veterans Affairs as Special Counsel to the Secretary. Previously, Bradley was at the American Red Cross, a Partner at Holland & Knight, LLP, and General Counsel at the Department of Veterans Affairs. She served as Principal Deputy General Counsel for the Department of the Navy and as a senior attorney in the Office of the Deputy General Counsel at DOD. A veteran, she also served on active duty as a Judge Advocate for the US Air Force.

Howard Harary has been appointed director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Engineering Laboratory, which develops the measurement tools and standards needed to support technology-intensive manufacturing, construction and cyber-physical systems. The laboratory also conducts research to reduce the risks of fire, earthquakes and other hazards. Harary became the Engineering Laboratory’s acting director in 2013. The Department of Commerce approved Harary’s appointment, effective November 3, 2014.

Next Week

The House and Senate return from recess next Wednesday November 12. Newly elected members of Congress arrive for orientation and leadership elections for both the House and Senate. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said that the House will take up three EPA-related bills the week of 11/17 – HR 4102, the Secret Science Reform Act, HR 1422, the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act, and HR 4795, the Promoting New Manufacturing Act. These bills have little chance of passing the Senate before the end of the 113th Congress.

Washington Weekly – October 31, 2014

October 31, 2014

Both the House and Senate were in recess this week.

Armed Services Committees Chairmen

Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) announced this week that he will challenge Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) for the chairmanship of the House Armed Services Committee. The current chairman, Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) is retiring at the end of this Congress. While Thornberry has seniority over Forbes, is favored by Republican leaders, has given the National Republican Congressional Committee significantly more than Forbes, and has the endorsement of McKeon, Forbes said that he would make his case to the Republican Steering Committee after the midterm elections. The Steering Committee is the group of 30 House leadership-aligned members who decide by vote who will chair committees with House Speaker John Boehner having weighted votes.

And on the Senate side, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) was presumed to be the successor to retiring Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI). However, this week his spokesman stated that Reed hasn’t made a decision about which committee he would helm, and that he wouldn’t make the decision until after the election. Reed will be the most senior Democrat on SASC and Banking. If Reed opts for Banking, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) could be the most senior Democrat on SASC.

Cybersecurity

Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) at a conference this week said that they are in the process of developing their new 2015 examination priorities and will publish them in January 2015. The new priorities are expected to include a more intense scrutiny of brokerage firms’ cybersecurity practices. FINRA is also hiring examiners with technology expertise to assist in reviewing firms’ practices. The new examiners will be looking for measures that firms have in place for securing clients’ data and testing the integrity of firms’ technology. FINRA is an independent, not-for-profit organization authorized by Congress to write and enforce rules governing the activities of securities firms and brokers, and to examine those firms for compliance with those rules. They are increasing their cybersecurity efforts in light of recent hacking events that compromised clients’ personal information and other data.

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released their Draft Special Publication (SP) 800-150, Guide to Cyber Threat Information Sharing this week. The purpose of this publication is to assist organizations in establishing, participating in, and maintaining information sharing relationships throughout the incident response life cycle. It explores the benefits and challenges of coordination and sharing, presents the strengths and weaknesses of various information sharing architectures, clarifies the importance of trust, and introduces specific data handling considerations.  The goal of the publication is to provide guidance that improves the efficiency and effectiveness of defensive cyber operations and incident response activities, by introducing safe and effective information sharing practices, examining the value of standard data formats and transport protocols to foster greater interoperability, and providing guidance on the planning, implementation, and maintenance of information sharing programs.

The publication recommends implementing the following recommendation, which will enable organizations to make more efficient and effective use of information sharing and collaboration capabilities throughout the incident response life cycle:

  1. Organizations should perform an inventory that catalogues the information an organization currently possesses, the information that it is capable of producing, and document the circumstances under which this information may be shared.
  2. Organizations should exchange threat intelligence, tools, and techniques with sharing partners.
  3. Organizations should employ open, standard data formats and transport protocols to facilitate the efficient and effective exchange of information.
  4. Organizations should enhance their cybersecurity posture and maturity by augmenting local data collection, analysis, and management functions using information from external sources.
  5. Organizations should define an approach for adaptive cybersecurity that addresses the full cyber-attack life cycle.
  6. Organizations should ensure that the resources required for ongoing participation in a sharing community are available.
  7. Organizations should protect sensitive information by maintaining an ongoing awareness of information security, vulnerabilities, and threats.
  8. Organizations should establish the foundational infrastructure necessary to maintain its cybersecurity posture and clearly identify the roles and responsibilities for installing, operating, and maintaining these capabilities.

A copy of the draft publication can be found at:

http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/drafts/800-150/sp800_150_draft.pdf

Department of Defense Directives

In the past week Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work released three DoD directives, which are broad policy documents used to establish policy, assign responsibilities, and delegate authority to those working in and with the military. The recently released directives focus on the responsibilities of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, the management of serious security incidents involving classified information, and DoD’s privacy program.

Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence (USD(I))

Last Friday, the Pentagon issued an updated version (attached) of DoD Directive 5143.01 defining the role of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence. The position was established in the FY03 NDAA to improve management and coordination of defense intelligence programs. This update replaces the version issued in 2005 and reflects changes in the global environment as well as changes in the intelligence mission. Cybersecurity, insider threats, unauthorized disclosures of classified information, and biometrics are all new terms included in the expanded portfolio of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence.

A copy of this directive can be found at:

http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/514301p.pdf

Management of Serious Security Incidents Involving Classified Information

The Management of Serious Security Incidents Involving Classified Information directive released on Monday now designates unauthorized disclosures of classified information, leaks to the news media, acts of espionage, and certain other information security offenses as “serious security incidents.” The new terminology was adopted to standardize procedures for preventing, identifying, investigating, and reporting such violations when they occur. It replaces a previous directive from 2005. While not every case of mishandling classified information qualifies as a “serious security incident,” the term applies whenever there is an unauthorized disclosure. And the new directive says that “DoD personnel responsible for serious security incidents may be held accountable, as appropriate, in a criminal proceeding, civil judicial action, disciplinary or adverse administrative action, or other administrative action authorized by federal law or regulations.”

A copy of this directive can be found at:

http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/521050p.pdf

DoD Privacy Program

Finally, the DoD Privacy Program delegates authorities and responsibilities for the effective administration of the DoD Privacy Program.

A copy of this directive can be found at:

http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/540011p.pdf

Military Intelligence Program (MIP) FY14 Budget

The Department of Defense released the Military Intelligence Program (MIP) appropriated top line budget for FY2014. The total FY14 MIP budget, which included both the base budget and Overseas Contingency Operations appropriations, was $17.4B billion. The MIP budget has decreased by $10 billion over the past five years. It hit its high point in FY10 with $27 billion, FY11 $24 billion, FY12 $21.5 billion, and FY13 $19.2 billion (but reduced by sequester to $18.6 billion). The department determined that releasing this top line figure does not jeopardize any classified activities within the MIP. No other MIP budget figures or program details will be released, as they remain classified for national security reasons.

Department of Defense Acquisition Reform Weekend Meeting

Frank Kendall, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics is scheduled to meet with members of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) this weekend to discuss Better Buying Power (BBP) 3.0. Kendall released the latest acquisition reform initiative last month. Mary Margaret Evans, who has been tapped as Kendall’s point person on the rollout and industry outreach for the Better Buying Power 3.0 initiative, will also attend the meeting.

The BBP initiative seeks to improve the Department of Defense’s procurement process by providing more incentives for contractors to meet cost and schedule goals, remove some barriers to buying commercial products, incorporate more input from the intelligence community into requirements for future weapons, expanding the Superior Supplier Incentive Program, and getting draft requirements out earlier and incorporating industry feedback into final solicitations. After the rollout, Undersecretary Kendall said his office would collect comments from stakeholders and then release a final product in early 2015.

A copy of the interim release of BBP 3.0 can be found at:

http://www.vantagepointstrat.com/?attachment_id=268

DHS Employee Morale Task Force

A Federal Register notice this week announced that DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson tasked his Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) with establishing a DHS Employee Morale Task Force. The HSAC is comprised of leaders of local law enforcement, first responders, state and local government, the private sector, and academia. The new The DHS Employee Morale Task Force will provide findings and recommendations on how to improve employee morale throughout the DHS enterprise. They will address, among other closely related topics, the following questions: (1) What are the core or root causes of continued low morale in the Department of Homeland Security? (2) How can DHS strengthen its leadership cadre, in order to both enhance mission effectiveness and also increase employee morale? (3) How can DHS work as a whole, across the agencies and recognizing their distinct cultures, to build a greater sense of belonging and improve employee morale? (4) Referencing the 2007 HSAC DHS Morale Assessment: which of those recommendations were successfully implemented? For those items that were not but still remain relevant, what changes should be made to increase the likelihood of successful implementation and organizational adoption? The task force’s findings and recommendations will be submitted to the HSAC no later than nine months from Oct 21, 2014 (date of publication). HSAC will then deliberate and vote on the recommendations during a public meeting. Once approved, the report will be sent to the Secretary for his review and acceptance.

Political Updates

Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner (CBP) Gil Kerlikowske and DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson announced the selection of Kevin McAleenan as the Deputy Commissioner of CBP. McAleenan has served as the Acting Deputy Commissioner of CBP since April 1, 2013. Previously, McAleenan served as the acting assistant commissioner of the CBP Office of Field Operations, and as deputy assistant commissioner, Office of Field Operations. Prior to assuming these positions with CBP Field Operations, McAleenan served in several leadership capacities at CBP and the former US Customs Service. From 2006 to 2008, McAleenan served as the area port director, Los Angeles International Airport. Prior to his government service, McAleenan practiced law in California. He received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Chicago Law School after earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree, cum laude, from Amherst College.

Next Week

The House and Senate are in recess until November 12.