The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday approved nominations to lead the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and financial office at the Department of Homeland Security, and several homeland security bills, including one to enhance counter-drone efforts within DHS.
The committee also delayed a vote on Chad Wolf to be the new policy chief at DHS at the request of Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), the ranking member, pending his responses to questions from some Democrats at his confirmation hearing last week.
The committee members want answers on Wolf's' role on various controversial DHS immigration policies and their implementation while he worked as chief of staff for then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. Wolf's answers are due by July.
The committee approved en bloc by voice vote the nominations of Jeffrey Byard as the administrator of FEMA and Troy Edgar to be chief financial officer of DHS.
The DHS Countering Unmanned Aircraft Systems Coordinator Act (S. 1867) was approved en bloc with a slew of other bills. The measure directs DHS to designate a DHS official to coordinate the department's relevant offices and components for the development of policies and plans to counter threats from UAS.
The bill also promotes the research and development of counter UAS (C-UAS) technologies, requires sharing of information and guidance related to countering UAS threats, directing the coordinator be the DHS point of contact for federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement organizations and the private sector regarding department activities for C-UAS, and carrying out other related UAS activities as directed by the secretary of the department.
The House last September passed the bill, which was designated H.R. 6438, by voice vote. The House will have to consider the legislation again since it passed it in the previous Congress.
Also, as part of measures voted en bloc, the committee approved two related to cyber security. The State and Local Cybersecurity Act of 2019 (S. 1846) requires DHS to strengthen cyber security coordination with state and local governments.
The Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2019 (S. 734) directs the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to complete work related to IoT cyber security risks by Sept. 30, and include work related to secure development, identity management, patching and configuration management of IoT devices. The legislation also requires NIST to develop regulations for the federal government, including minimum information security requirements related to cyber risks of IoT devices owned or controlled by the government, and requires the White House Office of Management and Budget to issue guidelines for agencies to report and receive information on security vulnerabilities discovered on a device by the agency and resolution of the vulnerability. OMB's guidelines would also prohibit agencies from acquiring IoT devices from the private sector if the contractor or vendor doesn't comply with NIST guidance required by the bill for the private sector to disclose information about security vulnerabilities in IoT devices it provides to agencies.