Washington Weekly – February 28, 2015

February 28, 2015

The House and Senate passed a one-week stopgap spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which the President then signed averting a shutdown of the agency. The House passed HR 529, a bill that would expand the use of 529 educational savings plans by allowing tax-free distributions for students to buy computers and software. The House postponed a vote on HR 5, the Student Success Act, a bill to overhaul No Child Left Behind. The Senate passed a full-year, clean FY15 Department of Homeland Security spending bill and sent the measure to the House. President Obama issued his third veto of his presidency this week vetoing the Keystone XL Pipeline Act that was passed by Congress earlier this month. The bill authorized TransCanada to construct, connect, operate, and maintain the pipeline and cross-border facilities specified in an application they filed with the Department of State in 2012. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that the Senate would hold another vote to override the veto by March 3.

FY15 DHS Appropriations

Funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was set to expire at midnight on February 27, but a shutdown was averted by passage of a one-week extension of the FY15 DHS continuing resolution. The Senate passed the measure by voice vote after the House failed to pass a three-week stopgap bill. The Senate then adjourned leaving the House with the options of either accepting the one-week bill or forcing DHS to shutdown. House leaders decided to pass the one-week bill under suspension of the rules. The House vote was 357 to 60 (55 Republicans and 5 Democrats voted against passing the bill). DHS is now funded through midnight March 6.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) also announced a motion to agree to the House’s request for a conference committee on a full year spending bill. The Senate will hold a cloture vote on the motion on Monday evening. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said that Senate Democrats would not vote for cloture as they will only accept the clean, full-year spending bill they already passed.

Senate leaders finally reached an agreement this week on how to proceed on the FY15 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations bill after failing four times to invoke cloture on the bill. Instead, the Senate opted to pass a clean (no immigration riders), full-year DHS spending bill on Friday by a vote of 68 to 31. They then turned to S. 534, a bill that would block funding for President Obama’s November 2014 immigration executive orders. This bill is more narrow than the riders included in the House-passed FY15 DHS appropriations bill as it does not include provisions on the President’s 2012 actions affecting dreamers, 2011 memos related to prosecutorial discretion, and future executive actions. It does include provisions that would require DHS to treat any migrant convicted of domestic violence or child exploitation as subject to the department’s highest civil immigration enforcement, and expresses the sense of Congress that the executive branch should incentivize hiring citizens and legal immigrants and stop prioritizing the interests of illegal immigrants ahead of others. Cloture was not invoked on S. 534 by a vote of 57 to 42. Four Senate Democrats voted in favor of cloture on S. 534 – Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Sen. Clair McCaskill (D-MO). The other Senate Democrats blocked the measure because they do not want to debate it until the House passes a clean funding bill for DHS through the end of the fiscal year.

On the House side, after receiving the Senate passed rider-free, full-year DHS appropriations bill the House voted on a motion to go to conference with the Senate. That motion passed by a vote of 228 to 191 with 12 Democrats voting in favor of the motion. A similar motion to go to conference in the Senate will require 60 votes. The House then voted on a three-week stopgap DHS spending bill that would fund the department through March 19. That bill failed by a vote of 203 to 224.

FY16 National Defense Budget Caps

House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-CA) along with 30 (of 35 total) Republican members of the committee sent a “views and estimates” letter to House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-GA), a required part of the annual budget process. The letter recommends a restoration to the pre-sequestration Budget Control Act (BCA) caps of $577.0B for national defense and $50.9B for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account for FY2016. In comparison, the BCA post-sequestration level for national defense for FY16 is $523.067B. If $577.0B is not feasible, the HASC committee members recommended, at a minimum, last year’s House-passed Budget Resolution level of $566.0B for national defense for FY16 with restoration to pre-sequestration level funding in FY17. The President’s FY16 budget requests $561.0 billion in discretionary budget authority for national defense, of which $534.3 billion is for the Department of Defense (DOD), $19.1 billion is for the Department of Energy’s defense activities, and $7.6 billion is for other defense- related activities. The President’s budget also includes $9.0 billion in mandatory budget authority, and a separate request of $50.9B for the OCO account.

On the Senate side, Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) has vowed to personally oppose a budget resolution that doesn’t increase military spending above what’s allowed under the BCA. McCain says that he has been talking with Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) and working with SASC members to present a unified argument to the Budget Committee.

In the House Appropriations Committee, Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) has said that he expects that they will have to adhere to BCA sequestration caps and has asked the military services to draw up plans for abiding by the caps.

A copy of the HASC Republican letter can be found at:

http://armedservices.house.gov/index.cfm/files/serve?File_id=A9D64CAD-D6F2-4904-85B7-AB3C9E875EEF

Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center (CTIIC)

On Wednesday, the President issued an Executive Order directing the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to establish the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center (CTIIC). The CTIIC will be a national intelligence center focused on “connecting the dots” regarding malicious foreign cyber threats to the nation and cyber incidents affecting U.S. national interests, and on providing all-source analysis of threats to U.S. policymakers. The CTIIC will also assist relevant departments and agencies in their efforts to identify, investigate, and mitigate those threats.

Once established, the CTIIC will join the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force (NCIJTF), and U.S. Cyber Command as integral parts of the U.S. Government’s capability to protect us from cyber threats. It will support the NCCIC in its network defense and incident response mission; the NCIJTF in its mission to coordinate, integrate, and share information related to domestic cyber threat investigations; and U.S. Cyber Command in its mission to defend the nation from significant attacks in cyberspace.

No decisions have been made regarding the CTIIC’s specific location, but the current plan is to locate the CTIIC in the Washington, DC metro area in an existing Intelligence Community facility. The DNI is in the process of developing the CTIIC’s organizational structure. They expect that it will be small, consisting of approximately 50 government personnel drawn from relevant departments and agencies.

A copy of the executive order can be found at:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/02/25/presidential-memorandum-establishment-cyber-threat-intelligence-integrat

Political Updates

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 12 to 8 on Thursday to approve Loretta Lynch as the next U.S. Attorney General. All Democrats on the committee voted for Lynch along with three Republicans – Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). The full Senate is expected to take up her nomination next week.

Keith Hall, the chief economist for the International Trade Commission and a former Bureau of Labor Statistics commissioner, has been named the new director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). He also served as the Chief Economist for the White House Council for Economic Advisors from 2005 to 2008. Hall will replace Doug Elmendorf at CBO starting April 1. His term will expire on January 3, 2019.

Acting NIST Director and acting Undersecretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology Willie May has been nominated by the president to drop the acting and become full undersecretary. May has been acting director since last June. May was also nominated last summer but not confirmed by the 113th Congress.

Michael Bahar was appointed as the new minority staff director on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Bahar graduated from Harvard Law School in 2002 and was commissioned into the US Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps. In 2010 he joined the White House as Deputy Legal Advisor to the White House’s National Security Staff. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 where he advised a Special Operations Task Force. He left active duty in 2012 to take the position of General Counsel on the HPSCI.

At the Department of the Treasury, President Obama nominated Amias Gerety for Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions and Anne Elizabeth Wall for Deputy Under Secretary for Legislative Affairs.

Washington Weekly – February 20, 2015

February 20, 2015

The House and Senate were in recess this week. Ash Carter was sworn in by Vice President Biden on Tuesday as President Obama’s fourth Secretary of Defense.

Cybersecurity

Draft Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act

A draft cybersecurity bill from Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) was released this week and may be introduced next week. The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) of 2015 is a lot like the previous CISA bill including provisions on information sharing; authorizations for preventing, detecting, analyzing, and mitigating cybersecurity threats; sharing of cyber threat indicators and countermeasures with the federal government; and liability protections. The bill also includes tougher requirements on companies to remove personally identifiable information.

A copy of the bill can be found at:

http://www.vantagepointstrat.com/?attachment_id=356

RFI for Information Sharing and Analysis Organizations

Ari Schwartz, Senior Director for Cybersecurity on the U.S. National Security Council Staff at the White House participated in a cybersecurity event this week at the Atlantic Council. At the event, Schwartz said that the administration is preparing a request for information (RFI) as its first step in setting ground rules for the planned network of Information Sharing and Analysis Organizations (ISAOs). The President proposed ISAOs in his latest cybersecurity executive order as a mechanism for sharing information within the private sector, and potentially with the federal government (although they won’t be required to). The administration will follow up with a request for proposals (RFP) seeking bids to set up the standards-setting organizations, which will, in turn, develop best practices and benchmarks for the ISAOs. The administration did not comment on the timing of the RFI.

Administration’s Cyber Agenda

Lisa Monaco, US Homeland Security Advisor to President Obama, said this week that the administration aims to develop new cyber policies along four lines: 1) boosting basic defenses for critical infrastructure by using tools such as the federal framework of cybersecurity standards; 2) strengthening our ability to disrupt, respond to, and effectively manage U.S. responses to cyber threats; 3) enhancing international cooperation to hold cyber criminals accountable; and 4) making cyberspace intrinsically more secure by replacing passwords with more secure technologies and enhancing consumer protections online.

Authorization for Use of Military Force

The House Armed Services Committee will hold a full committee hearing next Thursday on the President’s proposed Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. This hearing will focus on input from witnesses outside the administration. Witnesses include General Jack Keane, USA (Ret.); Robert Chesney, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, University of Texas; and Benjamin Wittes, Brookings Institution.

Political Updates

President Obama selected Joseph Clancy to be the next Director of the Secret Service. Clancy has been serving in an acting capacity since October 1, 2014 when former director Julia Pearson resigned following several major security breaches. Clancy is a retired agent who began his career with the Secret Service in the late 1980s and formerly led the Presidential Protective Division. President Obama chose not to follow the advice of an independent panel and Congress who recommended that he bring in an outsider to run the beleaguered agency. The independent panel said in their final report, “Only a director from outside the Service, removed from organizational traditions and personal relationships, will be able to do the honest top-to-bottom reassessment this will require.” The Secret Service is a federal law enforcement agency that is part of the Department of Homeland Security. The Director is appointed serving at the approbation of the President of the United States, and is not subject to Senate confirmation.

The White House named Dr. DJ Patil as its first ever Chief Data Scientist and Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Data Policy. Patil will work in the Office of Science and Technology Policy reporting to US Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith. He will focus on developing policies and practices for new applications of big data across all areas of government, with a particular focus on healthcare. Prior to joining the White House, Patil worked for the Department of Defense, LinkedIn, eBay, PayPal, Skype, RelatelQ, and venture capital firm Greylock Partners.

President Obama picked Jen Psaki, previously a State Department spokesperson, to take over as White House communications director. Psaki will succeed Jen Palmieri who is leaving to join Hillary Clinton’s expected presidential campaign.

Democratic Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander announced this week that he will challenge Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) in 2016. Blunt is the chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, chairman of the Senate Labor HHS Appropriations Subcommittee, and a member of the Senate Commerce and Intelligence Committees. Kander was first elected statewide in 2012 and was a Captain in the US Army who served in Afghanistan.

Next Week

The Senate returns from recess on Monday and the House on Tuesday. The House will take up HR 529, a bill amending the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to improve 529 plans and HR 5, the Student Success Act. Funding for the Department of Homeland Security runs out on Friday, February 27, so both the House and Senate will have to consider a funding bill for the agency to avoid a shutdown.

Washington Weekly – February 13, 2015

February 13, 2015

The House passed S1, the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act; HR 644, a bill to permanently extend and expand the charitable deduction for contributions of food inventory; and HR 636, a bill to permanently extend increased expensing limitations (“America’s Small Business Tax Relief Act”). S1 now goes to the President who is expected to veto the measure. The White House has also issued veto threats on the other two bills the House passed this week. The Senate cleared the nominations of Ash Carter to be Secretary of Defense and Michael Botticelli to be Director of the National Drug Control Policy, and passed S295, the Amy and Vicky Child Pornography Victim Restitution Improvement Act of 2015.

Authorization for Use of Military Force Against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)

The White House submitted its Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against ISIL to Congress this week. The President’s AUMF authorizes the use of the United States Armed Forces against ISIL subject to limitations including terminating three years after the date of enactment unless reauthorized and not authorizing “enduring offensive ground combat operations.” The AUMF also calls for the repeal of the AUMF Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.

The AUMF can be found at:

http://www.vantagepointstrat.com/?p=349

FY15 DHS Appropriations

House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Lucy Roybal-Allard (D-CA) introduced a “clean” FY15 DHS appropriations bill (HR 861) this week that would fund the agency through the end of FY15. The bill does not include any of the immigration policy riders that were included in the bill passed by the House earlier this year and currently being considered by the Senate. Lowey and Roybal-Allard were unsuccessful in trying to bring up their bill during floor consideration of S1, the Keystone XL Pipeline Act using a procedure to defeat the previous question on the rule. House Republicans unanimously blocked the attempt by a vote of 242 to 183. While unsuccessful in the maneuver, Lowey and Roybal-Allard were seeking to put House lawmakers on the record on a “clean” Homeland Security spending bill for the first time.

A copy of the House Democrats’ bill can be found at:

https://www.congress.gov/114/bills/hr861/BILLS-114hr861ih.pdf

Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) remain in a standoff over the issue. Democrats in the Senate say they will not lift their filibuster unless McConnell moves a clean bill, so McConnell has called on Boehner and the House GOP to make the next move. But throughout the week, Boehner has maintained that the Senate must find a way to take up the House-passed bill.

Cybersecurity

Private Sector Cybersecurity Information Sharing Executive Order

The White House is hosting a cybersecurity summit at Stanford University today. At the event the President is signing an Executive Order (EO) that provides a framework to encourage and promote sharing of cybersecurity threat information within the private and between the private sector and government. Specifically, the EO:

  • Encourages the development of information sharing and analysis organizations (ISAOs).
  • Directs DHS to create a non-profit organization to develop a common set of voluntary standards for ISAOs.
  • Streamlines the mechanism for DHS’ National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) to enter into information sharing agreements with ISAOs.
  • Allows DHS to approve classified information sharing arrangements and ensures that information sharing entities can appropriately access classified cybersecurity threat information.
  • Requires ISAOs to abide by a common set of voluntary standards that include privacy protections.

A copy of the President’s Cybersecurity Information Sharing Executive Order can be found at:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/02/13/executive-order-promoting-private-sector-cybersecurity-information-shari

Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center

Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism announced during a speech at the Wilson Center this week that the Administration is creating a new agency – the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center. The new center will be tasked with coordinating digital/cyber intelligence from federal agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency and distributing it more broadly with federal agencies so that they’re aware of cyber threats in as close to real time as possible. The CTIIC will be part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), which is already responsible for coordinating intelligence from various agencies. Initial staff of about 50 people will be culled from across departments and agencies. The agency will be funded by an annual $35 million budget.

Link to Monaco’s speech:

http://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/cyber-threats-and-vulnerabilities-securing-americas-most-important-assets

Cybersecurity Legislation

Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), Ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee this week introduced S456, The Cyber Threat Sharing Act of 2015. The bill incorporates President Obama’s legislative proposal and would codify mechanisms for enabling cybersecurity threat indicator sharing between private and government entities, as well as among private entities. It was referred to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) indicated that his panel would seek to revive its information-sharing bill soon saying that it would be the committee’s bill not the President’s proposed bill.

GAO High Risk Report

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its biennial High Risk List this week. The list is an exhaustive document highlighting government programs and activities that need careful oversight against waste, fraud, and abuse. Of the 30 areas on the 2013 list, 18 have at least partially met all of the criteria for removal, and of those, 11 met at least one of the criteria for removal and partially met all others. Sufficient progress was made to narrow the scope of two high-risk issues—Protecting Public Health through Enhanced Oversight of Medical Products and DOD Contract Management. On the other hand, GAO added two areas to the list this year: 1) Veterans Affairs Health Care and 2) IT Acquisitions and Operations. And they expanded two areas due to evolving high-risk issues: 1) Enforcement of Tax Laws and 2) Ensuring the Security of Federal Information Systems and Cyber Critical Infrastructure and Protecting the Privacy of Personally Identifiable Information.

A copy of the GAO report can be found at:

http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/668415.pdf

Political Updates

The Senate confirmed Ash Carter to replace Chuck Hagel as secretary of Defense by a vote of 93 to 5. The five Republicans voting against Carter were Sens. Mark Kirk (R-IL), Roy Blunt (R-MS), John Boozman (R-AR), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Jim Risch (R-ID). Carter will be sworn in next Tuesday. He is expected to tap Eric Fanning to be his Chief of Staff and Maj. Gen. Ron Lewis to be his Senior Military Assistant. Fanning, a former journalist, is currently the Air Force Undersecretary. Lewis took over the Army’s public affairs office last June. He is a career Air Cavalry officer, who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah gave his last speech this week at AEI as he leaves his post on February 18.

Former Senate liaison Amy Pope will become the White House’s No. 2 adviser on homeland security, replacing outgoing deputy assistant Rand Beers. Pope has served over the last year as special assistant to the president and senior director for transborder security at the National Security Council. Pope worked previously as counsel to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and as a liaison between Senate leadership and the Senate Judiciary Committee. She has also been deputy chief of staff and counselor to the assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division at the Justice Department, as well as senior counsel to the assistant attorney general.

President Obama announced his intent to appoint Dr. Kathryn Brinsfield as DHS Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs and Chief Medical Officer. Brinsfield is the Associate Chief Medical Officer and Director for Workforce Health and Medical Support at DHS, a position she has held since 2009. Since 2013, she has also served as the Acting Assistant Secretary in the Office of Health Affairs and the Acting Chief Medical Officer at DHS.

The President also nominated Seth Carpenter to be an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, Ann Elizabeth Dunkin to be an Assistant Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Brodi Fontenot to be Chief Financial Officer at the Department of the Treasury, and Jane Toshiko Nishida to be an Assistant Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

And finally, Philadelphia has been chosen as the site of the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

Next Week

The House and Senate are in recess next week and return the following week (Senate – February 23, House – February 24).

Washington Weekly – February 6, 2015

February 6, 2015

The House passed HR 596, a bill repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010; HR 50, the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act of 2015; HR 527, the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2015; HR 623, the Social Media Working Group Act; HR 615, the Department of Homeland Security Interoperable Communications Act; and HR 361, the Medical Preparedness Allowable Use Act. The Senate passed HR 203, the Clay Hunt SAV Act, which now goes to the President for his signature. The Senate tried and failed three times to invoke cloture on HR 240, the FY15 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act.

President’s FY16 Budget Request

President Obama submitted his $3.999 trillion FY16 budget to Congress on Monday. This budget will be his last budget request where he will be in office for the full budget cycle. The budget reflects Democratic priorities on spending and taxes, and does away with the sequester replacing both defense and non-defense cuts by trimming mandatory and discretionary programs by $600 billion over 10 years, raising $638 billion in new tax revenues, and calling for an immigration reform plan to save $158 billion over 10 years. The post-sequester caps for FY16 are $493.491B for non-defense discretionary and $523.091B for defense. The President’s budget request would raise non-defense accounts by $37B to $530B and defense accounts by $38B to $561B. As expected, Congressional Republicans pushed back on the President’s proposal to increase taxes and said that they are eager to write their own 10-year balanced budget proposals over the next two months.

The White House Office of Management and Budget FY16 budget documentation can be found at:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/Overview

The federal agencies’ detailed budget documents can be found at:

Agriculture

http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?navid=BUDGET

Commerce

http://www.commerce.gov/news/fact-sheets/2015/02/02/fact-sheet-fy-2016-us-department-commerce-budget

Defense

http://comptroller.defense.gov/budgetmaterials/budget2016.aspx

Education

http://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/budget16/index.html

Energy

http://energy.gov/cfo/downloads/fy-2016-budget-justification

Environmental Protection Agency

http://www2.epa.gov/planandbudget/fy2016

Health and Human Services

http://www.hhs.gov/budget/index.html#justifications

Homeland Security

http://www.dhs.gov/dhs-budget

Housing and Urban Development

http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/cfo/reports/fy16_CJ

Interior

http://www.doi.gov/budget/appropriations/2016/highlights/index.cfm

Justice

http://www.justice.gov/about/fy16-budget-and-performance

Labor

http://www.dol.gov/dol/budget/

NASA

http://www.nasa.gov/news/budget/index.html#.VNUdYynGDzI

National Science Foundation

http://www.nsf.gov/about/budget/fy2016/index.jsp

Small Business Administration

https://www.sba.gov/content/fiscal-year-2016-congressional-budget-justificationannual-performance-report

State

http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/236395.pdf

Transportation

http://www.dot.gov/mission/budget/fy2016-budget-estimates

Treasury

http://www.treasury.gov/about/budget-performance/Pages/cj-index.aspx

US Army Corps of Engineers

http://www.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/Budget.aspx

Veteran Affairs

http://www.va.gov/budget/products.asp

FY15 DHS Appropriations

The Senate tried three times this week to invoke cloture on the $37.9 billion FY15 Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill, but was not successful in garnering the 60 aye votes needed to proceed to consideration of the bill. The Senate is expected to hold a fourth cloture vote next week. The votes this week were 51 to 48, 53 to 47, and 52 to 47 with Democrats and Independents united in opposition. Each time, Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) was the only Republican to vote against cloture joining Democrats who opposed the measure because it contains provisions that would roll back President Obama’s immigration executive actions. Congress has only 10 workdays to complete action on the measure before the current continuing resolution (CR) funding the department runs out on Feb. 27. The House and Senate will not be in session the week of 2/16. It is unclear if Senate Republicans will look to the House to send over a new bill or put together its own proposal. In the meantime, a short-term funding bill (CR) may be needed to keep the agency running past Feb. 27.

2015 National Security Strategy

President Obama submitted to Congress today his 2015 National Security Strategy and National Security Advisor Susan Rice discussed the new strategy at a launch event at the Brookings Institution this afternoon.

While the Goldwater-Nichols Defense Department Reorganization Act of 1986 requires the president to submit a national security strategy to Congress each year, this is only the second national security strategy from President Obama. His last strategy was issued in 2010. The report is frequently submitted late or not at all. President George W. Bush only submitted two (2002 and 2006) during his two terms in office, President George H.W. Bush missed submitting it two years, and President Clinton had the best track record in recent years only missing submitting it in 1999.

National security strategies outline the president’s foreign policy vision and priorities and include not just defense goals, but also diplomacy, economics, and expressions of value. In this case, President Obama’s 2015 strategy includes combating climate change, reducing the threat of weapons of mass destruction, maintaining an active US presence in the international community, advancing an international trade agenda, and preventing, detecting, and rapidly responding to biological threats among other priorities and principles.

A copy of the 2015 National Security Strategy can be found at:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/2015_national_security_strategy.pdf

House Armed Services Committee Vice Chairs and Retreat

House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) announced vice chairs for the committee’s six subcommittees. In announcing the vice chairs, Thornberry said that he wants to get more committee members, especially junior members, more deeply involved in national security issues. The vice chairs are as follows:

Seapower and Projection Forces – Duncan Hunter (R-CA)

Readiness – Elise Stefanik (R-NY)

Strategic Forces – Doug Lamborn (R-CO)

Emerging Threats and Capabilities – Trent Franks (R-AZ)

Military Personnel – Tom MacArthur (R-NJ)

Tactical Air and Land Forces – Paul Cook (R-CA)

Chairman Thornberry is also hosting a one-day retreat at the US Naval Academy on Tuesday, Feb. 10 for all (Democrat and Republican) HASC members. During the retreat, committee members will meet with top military officials and discuss trends in threats to US national security.

Political Updates

Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-MS) died today from complications from brain cancer. Nunnelee was first elected to Congress in 2010, defeating one-term Democrat Rep. Travis Childers. Nunnelee had a seat on the House Appropriations Committee and was a member of the Republican Study Committee. He was 56.

There are three finalists for the position of Director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The current Director, Doug Elmendorf, will step down when his replacement is named by House and Senate Republican leaders. The position does not require Senate confirmation. The three finalists are economists Katherine Baicker, Keith Hall, and Harold Furchtgott-Roth. Baicker is an economist and health care policy expert serving on CBO’s panel of health advisors. Hall is the Chief Economist at the US International Trade Commission. And Furchtgott-Roth has his own consulting firm, Furchtgott-Roth Economic Enterprises.

President Obama announced his intent to appoint Tony Scott as US Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Administrator of the Office of Electronic Government at the Office of Management and Budget. Scott currently leads the global information technology group at VMware Inc., a position he has held since 2013. Prior to joining VMware Inc., he served as CIO at Microsoft and The Walt Disney Company.

Dan Pfeiffer, who has been with President Obama since his first presidential campaign, said that he is leaving the White House in early March. Pfeiffer, Senior Advisor to the President, is exploring options in the private sector. Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri is also leaving the White House to join the Hillary Clinton campaign. Palmieri’s departure date is still being finalized.

Next Week

The House will take up S 1, the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act; HR 644, a bill to permanently extend and expand the charitable deduction for contributions of food inventory; and HR 636, a bill to permanently extend increased expensing limitations (“America’s Small Business Tax Relief Act”). The Senate will consider the nomination of Michael Botticelli to be Director of the National Drug Control Policy. The Senate may also consider the nomination of Ash Carter for Secretary of Defense if the Senate Armed Services Committee reports his confirmation to the full body early in the week. The Senate could also take up S 405, the Bipartisan Sportsman’s Act or HR 596, a bill to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.

Washington Weekly – January 30, 2015

January 30, 2015

The House passed several measures aimed at preventing and prosecuting human trafficking as well as HR 351, the LNG Permitting Certainty and Transparency Act. The Senate passed S 1, the Keystone XL Pipeline Act by a 62 to 36 vote after voting on more than 40 amendments. The House passed a similar measure (HR 3) on January 9. President Obama has vowed to veto the bill, and any conference measure is unlikely to get the necessary 2/3 votes in both the House and Senate to override a veto.

House Republican February Agenda

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) sent a memo to House Republicans yesterday outlining their agenda for the month of February. The House will first take up a bill (HR 596) repealing Obamacare. While the House has passed repeal measures in the past, this attempt will include instructions for committees to craft a Republican alternative to Obamacare. The agenda also calls for making permanent tax breaks for charitable giving, preventing the Administration from “coercing states to adopt Common Core standards,” and a bill opposing any plan to tax 529 college savings accounts. And, if the Senate passes a FY15 DHS appropriations bill that is different from the one passed by the House in January, the House will conference with the Senate in February. The memo does not mention HR 399, the Secure Our Borders First Act or HR 36, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Both bills were scheduled for House floor consideration in January, but were pulled when it was clear that the GOP did not have the votes for passing them.

FY15 DHS Appropriations

The Senate is poised to consider the FY15 Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill next week, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will be challenged in finding the 60 votes needed for moving the measure forward. Senate Democrats, hoping to force Republicans to strip out riders blocking President Obama’s immigration actions, have said that they will not vote for cloture on the bill.

Earlier this week, Senate Democrats signed and sent a letter to McConnell urging for passage of a clean FY15 DHS Appropriations bill. Sens. Shaheen (D-NH), ranking member of the Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee, and Sen. Mikulski (D-MD), ranking member of the full committee, also introduced a clean bill to fund DHS through the end of FY15. S 272 is based on the House and Senate December 2014 DHS compromise.

Another obstacle to the House-passed DHS funding bill is that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its score of the bill this week. CBO estimates that the immigration-related provisions in the House bill would add a net of $7.5 billion to the federal deficit over the next decade.

The current CR funding DHS expires on February 27.

A copy of the Senate Democrats’ letter can be found at:

http://www.shaheen.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/01.27.15%20DHS%20Funding%20Letter.pdf

And a copy of the Senate Democrats’ bill, S 272, can be found at:

http://www.shaheen.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/01.28.15%20DHS%20Bill.pdf

CBO Annual Budget and Economic Outlook

The Congressional Budget Office released its annual Budget and Economic Outlook this week. The outlook contains baseline projections based on current federal law for forecasting spending, tax revenues, the deficit and other economic factors associated with legislation and the federal budget. This latest outlook projects that the federal deficit will fall to $468B in FY2015 and $467B in FY2016 but rise to over $1T in FY2025. The reasons for the long-term deficit growth can be attributed to slowing economic growth and accelerating baby boomer retirements. The CBO’s last update was released in August. CBO Director Doug Elmendorf will testify before the House and Senate Budget Committees next week.

A copy of the CBO’s outlook can be found at:

http://www.cbo.gov/publication/49892

House Appropriations Deadlines

The House Appropriations subcommittee chairmen released their guidance letters to members of Congress this week. The letters included procedures for receiving members’ programmatic and language submissions for consideration in the FY16 appropriations process as well as the deadlines for each subcommittee.

Subcommittee Deadline
Agriculture March 23
Commerce Justice Science March 25
Defense March 25
Energy & Water March 18
Financial Services March 26
Homeland Security March 26
Interior March 23
Labor HHS March 26
Legislative Branch March 18
Military Construction/Veterans Affairs March 18
State Foreign Operations March 25
Transportation HUD March 23

The subcommittee letters can be found at:

http://appropriations.house.gov/legislation/memberinstructions.htm

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing vendors seeking to sell cloud services to federal agencies currently must get security accreditation through GSA’s FedRAMP. To date, FedRAMP has offered accreditations up to the “moderate-impact” level, but demand for higher levels has grown as cloud computing has become an accepted norm. The General Services Administration (GSA) released draft security control standards for cloud systems supporting these higher levels or “high impact” uses. “High impact” uses are any systems necessary to support agency continuity of operations and systems that agencies have identified under their critical infrastructure plans.

The draft high baseline documents lay out a process for authorizing cloud service providers to host data that, if leaked or otherwise compromised, would have a significant impact, including personal harm, loss of life or financial ruin. Most of the information to be covered under the high baseline will be law enforcement data and patient health records, but will not cover classified information or data relevant to national security.

The draft security control standards will go through two rounds of public comment before becoming final. This draft will be open for comment for 45 days (ending 3/13/15) before a second draft is issued (summer 2015). The final version is expected before the end of 2015.

A copy of the draft can be found at:

http://cloud.cio.gov/document/fedramp-high-baseline

Committee Rosters

House Armed Services Committee

HASC Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-CA) and Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) announced the final majority and minority members who will lead and serve on subcommittees for the 114th Congress.

EMERGING THREATS AND CAPABILITIES

Majority Members

Mr. Wilson, Chairman

Mr. Kline

Mr. Shuster

Mr. Hunter

Mr. Nugent

Mr. Zinke

Mr. Franks

Mr. Lamborn

Mr. Brooks

Mr. Byrne

Ms. Stefanik

Minority Members

Mr. Langevin, Ranking Member

Mr. Cooper

Mr. Garamendi

Mr. Castro

Mr. Veasey

Mr. Norcross

Mr. Ashford

Mr. Aguilar

MILITARY PERSONNEL

Majority Members

Dr. Heck, Chairman

Mr. Jones

Mr. Kline

Mr. Coffman

Mr. MacArthur

Ms. Stefanik

Mr. Cook

Mr. Knight

Minority Members

Mrs. Davis, Ranking Member

Mr. Brady

Ms. Tsongas

Ms. Speier

Mr. Walz

Mr. O’Rourke

OVERSIGHT AND INVESTIGATIONS

Majority Members

Mrs. Hartzler, Chairwoman

Mr. Miller

Mr. Conaway

Dr. Heck

Mr. Scott

Ms. McSally

Minority Members

Ms. Speier, Ranking Member

Mr. Cooper

Mr. Johnson

Ms. Graham

READINESS

Majority Members

Mr. Wittman, Chairman

Mr. Bishop

Mrs. Hartzler

Mr. Scott

Ms. Stefanik

Mr. LoBiondo

Mr. Rogers

Mr. Gibson

Mr. Palazzo

Mr. Nugent

Dr. Wenstrup

Mr. Graves

Minority Members

Ms. Bordallo, Ranking Member

Mrs. Davis

Mr. Courtney

Mr. Castro

Ms. Duckworth

Mr. Peters

Ms. Gabbard

Mr. O’Rourke

Mr. Gallego

SEAPOWER AND PROJECTION FORCES

Majority Members

Mr. Forbes, Chairman

Mr. Conaway

Mr. Palazzo

Mr. Byrne

Mr. Wittman

Mr. Hunter

Mrs. Hartzler

Mr. Cook

Mr. Bridenstine

Mrs. Walorski

Mr. Zinke

Mr. Knight

Minority Members

Mr. Courtney, Ranking Member

Mr. Langevin

Mr. Larsen

Ms. Bordallo

Mr. Johnson

Mr. Peters

Ms. Gabbard

Ms. Graham

Mr. Moulton

STRATEGIC FORCES

Majority Members

Mr. Rogers, Chairman

Mr. Franks

Mr. Lamborn

Mr. Coffman

Mr. Brooks

Mr. Bridenstine

Mr. Forbes

Mr. Bishop

Mr. Turner

Dr. Fleming

Minority Members

Mr. Cooper, Ranking Member

Ms. Sanchez

Mr. Larsen

Mr. Garamendi

Mr. Takai

Mr. Ashford

Mr. Aguilar

TACTICAL AIR AND LAND FORCES

Majority Members

Mr. Turner, Chairman

Mr. LoBiondo

Dr. Fleming

Mr. Gibson

Mr. Cook

Dr. Wenstrup

Mrs. Walorski

Mr. Graves

Ms. McSally

Mr. Knight

Mr. MacArthur

Mr. Jones

Mr. Wilson

Minority Members

Ms. Sanchez, Ranking Member

Ms. Tsongas

Mr. Johnson

Ms. Duckworth

Mr. Veasey

Mr. Walz

Mr. Norcross

Mr. Gallego

Mr. Takai

Ms. Graham

Mr. Moulton

House Intelligence Committee

The Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence adopted a new subcommittee structure and named its subcommittee chairmen, ranking members, and members this week. Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) said that the new subcommittee structure is “designed to enhance oversight of the relevant agencies and departments.” The committee will comprise the following four subcommittees:

CIA Subcommittee

LoBiondo (Chairman), Conaway, King, Westmoreland, Rooney, Pompeo

Swalwell (Ranking Member), Gutierrez, Himes, Carson

Jurisdiction: Central Intelligence Agency programs and Central Intelligence Agency Retirement Fund

Department of Defense Intelligence and Overhead Architecture Subcommittee

Heck (Chairman), Miller, Ros-Lehtinen, Turner, Wenstrup, Stewart

Sewell (Ranking Member), Gutierrez, Swalwell, Murphy

Jurisdiction: National Reconnaissance Program (NRP), the National Geospatial-Intelligence Program (NGP), the General Defense Intelligence Program (Defense Intelligence Agency), and Department of Defense activities that are funded through the Military Intelligence Program (MIP)

Emerging Threats Subcommittee

Rooney (Chairman), LoBiondo, Heck, Turner, Wenstrup, Stewart

Quigley (Ranking Member), Sewell, Carson, Speier

Jurisdiction: Office of the Director of National Intelligence, including the National Counterterrorism Center, the National Counterproliferation Center and the National Counterintelligence and Security Center; the national security components of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Intelligence Community-wide integration and information sharing programs; and the intelligence elements of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Departments of State (DOS), Homeland Security (DHS), Energy (DOE), and Treasury (DOT).

NSA and Cybersecurity Subcommittee

Westmoreland (Chairman), Miller, Conaway, King, Pompeo, Ros-Lehtinen

Himes (Ranking Member), Speier, Quigley, Murphy

Jurisdiction: National Security Agency programs, including cybersecurity policy and information sharing; and the Department of Defense Information Systems Security Program.

Senate Appropriations Subcommittees

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Vice Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) announced members for the 12 subcommittees that make up the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies

Majority

Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), chairman

Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)

Thad Cochran (R-Miss.)

Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

Susan Collins (R-Maine)

John Hoeven (R-N.D.)

Steve Daines (R-Mont.)

Minority

Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), ranking member

Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)

John Tester (D-Mont.)

Tom Udall (D-N.M.)

Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)

Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.)

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

Majority

Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), chairman

Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.)

Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)

Susan Collins (R-Maine)

Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)

Mark Kirk (R-Ill.)

John Boozman (R-Ark.)

Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.)

James Lankford (R-Okla.)

Minority

Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), ranking member

Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)

Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)

Jack Reed (D-R.I.)

Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)

Chris Coons (D-Del.)

Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.)

Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)

Defense

Majority

Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), chairman

Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)

Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.)

Susan Collins (R-Maine)

Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)

Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)

Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)

Steve Daines (R-Mont.)

Jerry Moran (R-Kan.)

Minority

Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), vice chairman

Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)

Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)

Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.)

Patty Murray (D-Wash.)

Jack Reed (D-R.I.)

Jon Tester (D-Mont.)

Tom Udall (D-N.M.)

Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii)

Energy and Water Development

Majority

Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman

Thad Cochran (R-Miss.)

Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)

Susan Collins (R-Maine)

Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)

Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)

John Hoeven (R-N.D.)

James Lankford (R-Okla.)

Minority

Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), ranking member

Patty Murray (D-Wash.)

Jon Tester (D-Mont.)

Richard Durbin (D-Ill.)

Tom Udall (D-N.M.)

Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)

Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)

Chris Coons (D-Del.)

Financial Services and General Government

Majority

John Boozman (R-Ark.), chairman

Jerry Moran (R-Kan.)

James Lankford (R-Okla.)

Minority

Chris Coons (D-Del.), ranking member

Richard Durbin (D-Ill.)

Department of Homeland Security

Majority

John Hoeven (R-N.D.), chairman

Thad Cochran (R-Miss.)

Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)

Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)

Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)

Bill Cassidy (R-La.)

Minority

Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), ranking member

Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)

Patty Murray (D-Wash.)

Jon Tester (D-Mont.)

Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.)

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies

Majority

Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), chairman

Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.)

Thad Cochran (R-Miss.)

Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)

John Hoeven (R-N.D.)

Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

Steve Daines (R-Mont.)

Bill Cassidy (R-La.)

Minority

Tom Udall (D-N.M.), ranking member

Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)

Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)

Jack Reed (D-R.I.)

Jon Tester (D-Mont.)

Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)

Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies

Majority

Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), chairman

Jerry Moran (R-Kan.)

Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)

Thad Cochran (R-Miss.)

Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.)

Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)

Mark Kirk (R-Ill.)

Bill Cassidy (R-La.)

Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.)

James Lankford (R-Okla.)

Minority

Patty Murray (D-Wash.), ranking member

Richard Durbin (D-Ill.)

Jack Reed (D-R.I.)

Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.)

Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)

Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)

Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii)

Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.)

Legislative Branch

Majority

Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), chairman

Mark Kirk (R-Ill.)

Jerry Moran (R-Kan.)

Minority

Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), ranking member

Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)

Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies

Majority

Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), chairman

Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)

John Hoeven (R-N.D.)

Susan Collins (R-Maine)

John Boozman (R-Ark.)

Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.)

Bill Cassidy (R-La.)

Minority

Jon Tester (D-Mont.), ranking member

Patty Murray (D-Wash.)

Jack Reed (D-R.I.)

Tom Udall (D-N.M.)

Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii)

Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.)

Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)

State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs

Majority

Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chairman

Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

Mark Kirk (R-Ill.)

Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)

John Boozman (R-Ark.)

Jerry Moran (R-Kan.)

James Lankford (R-Okla.)

Steve Daines (R-Mont.)

Minority

Patrick Leahy (R-Vt.), ranking member

Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.)

Richard Durbin (D-Ill.)

Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)

Chris Coons (D-Del.)

Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)

Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)

Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies

Majority

Susan Collins (R-Maine), chairman

Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)

Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.)

Mark Kirk (R-Ill.)

Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)

John Boozman (R-Ark.)

Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.)

Bill Cassidy (R-La.)

Steve Daines (R-Mont.)

Minority

Jack Reed (D-R.I.), ranking member

Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.)

Patty Murray (D-Wash.)

Richard Durbin (D-Ill.)

Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)

Chris Coons (D-Del.)

Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii)

Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)

Appropriations Committee Chairman Cochran and Vice Chairwoman Mikulski are also ex-officio members of each subcommittee of which they are not regular members.

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-DE) announced subcommittee members for its three subcommittees for the 114th Congress. Johnson and Carper are ex-officio members of every subcommittee.

Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI)

Majority Members

Rob Portman (R-OH), Chairman

John McCain (R-AZ)

Rand Paul (R-KY)

James Lankford (R-OK)

Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)

Ben Sasse (R-NE)

Minority Members

Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Ranking Member

Jon Tester (D-MT)

Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)

Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)

Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management (FSO)

Majority Members

Rand Paul (R-KY), Chairman

James Lankford (R-OK)

Michael B. Enzi (R-WY)

Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)

Joni Ernst (R-IA)

Ben Sasse (R-NE)

Minority Members

Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Ranking Member

Claire McCaskill (D-MO)

Cory A. Booker (D-NJ)

Gary C. Peters (D-MI)

Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management (RAFM)

Majority Members

James Lankford (R-OK), Chairman

John McCain (R-AZ)

Rob Portman (R-OH)

Michael B. Enzi (R-WY)

Joni Ernst (R-IA)

Ben Sasse (R-NE)

Minority Members

Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Ranking Member

Jon Tester (D-MT)

Cory A. Booker (D-NJ)

Gary C. Peters (D-MI)

Political Updates

House Conservatives formed a new caucus focused on “limited, constitutional government in Congress.” The House Freedom Caucus has nine members to start and it isn’t clear how it will distinguish itself from the Republican Study Committee who has over 170 members. Original members of the group include Reps. Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Jim Jordan (R-OH), John Fleming (R-LA), Matt Salmon (R-AZ), Justin Amash (R-MI), Raul Labrador (R-ID), Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), Ron DeSantis (R-FL), and Mark Meadows (R-NC).

NSA Director and Commander of the US Cyber Command Michael Rogers appointed Jonathan Freed as the agency’s new Associate Director for Strategic Communications. Freed is a longtime public relations professional and former journalist. He most recently served as a media relations and public affairs executive at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The President nominated Stuart Delery to be Associate Attorney General at the Department of Justice and Albert Meiburg to be Deputy Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Next Week

The House will take up HR 596, a bill repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010; HR 50, the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act of 2015; and HR 527, the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2015. The Senate will take up HR 203, the Clay Hunt SAV Act and HR 240, the FY15 DHS Appropriations Act. And the President releases his FY16 budget request on Monday at 11:30 am.