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