Cyber Security Industry Alliance Newsletter • Volume 2, Number 5 • January 2006

2006 Congressional Landscape

We enter the second session of the 109th Congress with a broad agenda that includes both substantial unfinished business from the first session as well as pressing new matters — even as legislators gear up for elections in November and brace for potentially transformative Abramoff scandal revelations and ethics reforms.

The Senate has already begun hearings on the Supreme Court nomination of Samuel Alito, which are likely to consume a great deal of the Judiciary Committee’s time over the next month or two. The temporary extension of the massive USA Patriot Act expires at the end of January, with no indication of how members will bridge the differences that derailed its final passage in December.

The House will return to a potential melee of leadership transition and membership turnover as fallout continues from several major ongoing lobbying scandals. As the dust settles, we will press for a return to issues such as spyware and data breach notification, as new large-scale data breaches reinforce concerns over consumer protection that have already lead to hearings and proposed legislation.

CSIA efforts to promote telework issues will probably receive a boost from broader concerns over the potential impact of the avian flu. Telework holds the potential to not only improve Americans’ quality of life but also to facilitate continuity of operations (COOP) in the event of a national emergency. Concurrent with federal programs to stockpile and distribute vaccines, 35 federal agencies have included COOP initiatives. The GSA/OPM Status of Telework Report states that another 37 are in the process of including COOP initiatives.

Of course, 2006 is also an election year for the full house and a third of the senate. At least ten Senators are considering running for president in 2008. Congress’s schedule has been scaled back accordingly, affording little time for activities beyond appropriations in "must pass" bills. However, spyware and data breach notification are strong contenders for limited floor time given the likelihood that they will surface on the campaign trail.

CSIA will continue to monitor these and other developments and keep you informed.