Speaker Ryan Address Congressional Republican Agenda with Politico

On January 27th, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan sat down with Politico Playbook to outline Congressional Republicans’ policy agenda. Following the Republican retreat in Philadelphia, which featured a speech from the new president, and a flurry of executive orders, Paul Ryan launched what he called an “ambitious” 20- day agenda. The agenda which was presented to Republicans at the retreat contains deadline specific issues, such as the April CR expiration and policy promises like repealing and replacing Obamacare. Ryan did say they anticipated a funding supplement to come from the White House for the Southern border wall, which he referred to as an immediate concern of national security.

Tax reform was another hot topic, which during the discussion Ryan tied back to a retooling of U.S. trade policies citing the border adjustment tax as a possible offset. The Speaker also addressed Republicans’ plan for repealing and replacing Obamacare, which he stated the legislation should be accomplished within 2017, but that the policy enacting would take years to enact. But he stressed the importance of repealing and replacing quickly citing it as a “rescue mission.”

Speaker Ryan touched on the vacant Supreme Court seat saying he expects a Supreme Court pick to be announced this coming week and that congressional Republicans “like [Trump’s] list.” When asked about Vice President Mike Pence’s new role, Speaker Ryan expressed confidence in Pence, anticipating him be a strong Vice President because his knowledge of the system and his prior history with many members brings expertise to the White House.

The topic of torture and Russian sanctions was also queried. Speaker Ryan reiterated that torture is illegal and not a flexible standard for the United States. He also supported Senator John McCain who called for the Russian sanctions to remain, calling the sanctions “overdue,” despite Trump floating possible easing. In a bipartisan note, the Speaker did state that criminal justice reform is on the agenda and would be done with action from both sides to the aisle.

When asked by an audience member about the number of executive actions being directed form the White House, Ryan sresponded that they were intended to remove “bad” polices installed by the Obama Administration. He stated he expects those actions would be accompanied by congressional action and highlighted the eventual action Congress would do under the Congressional Review Act. Overall, Speaker Ryan put forward what he expects Congress to move on in the next 200 days, which will include several of President Trump’s campaign promises and an ambitious list of policy goals for Republicans.

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Welcome to 2017 – Transition Homestretch & GOP 2017 Legislative Agenda

Trump Transition’s Homestretch

President-elect Trump has only a few Cabinet seats remaining to fill as the confirmation proceedings of those already chosen will kick into gear with the convening of the new Congress today. There are still several gaps in the president-elect’s West Wing staff, but we expect a number of high-level appointments in that regard to be announced this week, which will likely demonstrate the complex maneuverings of the various political advisors orbiting Trump as they look to build implicit, and at times even explicit, alliances among themselves.

Cabinet Confirmation Process Gets Underway

While House Republicans get to work on dismantling Obama’s legacy, the Senate will begin preparing to confirm Trump’s nominees this week. There are over one thousand nominees in any given administration who need to be confirmed by Congress. Lawmakers are hoping to get as many as five or six cabinet nominees through the process before Trump even enters office. Already, the Senate has tentatively scheduled confirmation hearing dates next week for Attorney General-designate Jeff Sessions, Department of Labor Secretary-designate Andrew Puzder, Defense Secretary-designate General James Mattis, USMC (ret.), CIA Director-designate Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), and Department of Education Secretary-designate Betsy DeVos. Although Republicans do not need any Democratic votes to confirm Cabinet members, the hearings are expected to be contentious, as the nominees were not vetted extensively for potential scandals prior to being chosen, and incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has threatened to further slow the process with procedural roadblocks if the Cabinet nominees aren’t fully vetted by the FBI and Office of Government Ethics before the confirmation hearings ahead of time. But these will be small beans compared to the Supreme Court nominee, which is the confirmation that still requires a 60 vote threshold. If McConnell does not eliminate the filibuster for this position, Democrats will throw as many parliamentary delays into the process as possible—both because they will likely vehemently disagree with Trump’s nominee and because they are still angry that Republicans refused to confirm Merrick Garland.

GOP’s 2017 Legislative Agenda: Sequencing And Timing

After holding both the House and Senate for the past two years under a Democratic administration, Republicans finally have an incoming president who will sign off on their agenda, and they have made it clear that they will take full advantage of the new world order. They plan to repeal Obamacare in the first 100 days, and we expect tax reform legislation to pass within the first year. And although it is not their top priority, congressional Republicans may pass some form of infrastructure funding legislation using money from tax reform, albeit substantially less robust than promised by Trump on the campaign trail. The GOP will also get to work at the outset overturning President Obama’s legacy of executive orders and regulations, with the conservative Freedom Caucus having already drawn up a list of over 200 items they would like to overturn.

Republican power in the new congress is vast, but not limitless. The Democratic minority will be able to play defense in the Senate, where 60 votes are still required to pass most legislation and confirm Supreme Court nominees. The Senate GOP will be able to use a process known as budget reconciliation to pass two bills this year that require only 50 votes—which they intend to use to repeal key elements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and pass comprehensive tax reform. There is also a reasonable chance that Senate Republicans will grow frustrated with Democratic delays and roadblocks, and will remove the filibuster entirely by invoking the so-called “nuclear option,” meaning they will need only 50 votes to pass legislation. This will give them free reign to pass the legislation they want, but could make any legislation passed vulnerable to repeal if Democrats sweep the House, Senate, and White House in the future. Meanwhile, even as they attempt to pass their sweeping agenda, Republicans will be slowed by the regular business of governing, which includes confirming executive branch nominees, passing spending bills, raising the debt limit, and reauthorizing the basic programs that make the federal government function.

Based on what congressional Republicans and Trump have indicated are their top priorities, these are the key issues that we expect Congress to address in the coming year:

Repeal (And Replace?) Obamacare

Repealing Obamacare is the number one priority for both Congress and the administration in 2017. In order to bypass Democrats in the Senate, they will use the reconciliation process—both the House and the Senate must pass budget resolutions, instruct relevant committees to develop the substance of the legislation, and then pass the legislative package through both chambers. The budget resolution unveiled in the Senate yesterday instructed the relevant committees in both chambers to prepare their draft legislation by January 27th, at which point the House and Senate Budget Committees will prepare the overall legislative packages to repeal major elements of the Affordable Care Act.

To get an early start, the Senate will begin debate of its budget resolution. Consideration of the Senate budget resolution is a multi-day process that allows for extended debate and also a “vote-a-rama” during which members get to propose an unlimited number of amendments (as long as they are relevant to budget matters) for votes. Consequently, they are not expected to finish until next week.

The House Republican Conference will go first on moving the final legislative package through relevant committees, and will send that package to the Senate when it is complete. The Senate may make some changes to what the House passes, as they are likely to be more conservative about repealing the massive program.

We expect that the reconciliation measure will contain language that punts any substantive changes to the law for as long as three years, seeking to provide Republicans more time (and specifically until after the 2018 midterm elections) to form a replacement plan to fill in the gaps of the reconciliation bill and seek to pass it through regular order, i.e. subject to Democratic filibuster in the Senate. But there is still disagreement over how long to wait. Some Republicans want to move new legislation as fast as possible. Others believe time is needed to put together a replacement plan.

There is still a possibility that enough Senate Republicans object to repeal efforts without a replace plan, which could delay passing the budget resolution or other legislation. Key Senate healthcare leaders, such as Chair of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Lamar Alexander (R-TN), are hesitant to endorse a strategy to repeal the law without simultaneously providing for a replacement plan. In order for these voices to win out, only three Senate Republicans need to vote (or threaten to vote) against the reconciliation measure, forcing the GOP to go back to the drawing board and coalesce around a replacement plan before attempting to repeal the law via reconciliation again. Congress would not repeal and replace Obamacare until around the late spring or early summer of 2017 in this scenario. However, our baseline expectation is for Republicans to successfully pass a “repeal and delay” measure in some form. The real question is whether enactment of the GOP’s repeal measure triggers sufficiently adverse consequences in the insurance market this spring when 2018 plan bids are released that Republicans are forced to either negotiate with Senate Democrats on a replacement measure sooner than the statutory deadline put in place or trigger the nuclear option to change the Senate filibuster rule to force through a yet-to-be-determined GOP replacement plan.

Comprehensive Tax Reform

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) has promised to release his first draft of tax reform legislation early this year. Republicans will then get to work finalizing their plans to add reconciliation instructions to a separate budget resolution for FY18 later this spring, allowing them once again to bypass the 60 vote minimum in the Senate, as they plan to do for repealing the ACA.

Although lawmakers like Brady—who have spent years salivating over the opportunity for tax reform—have promised to move the legislation quickly, we expect that the bill is unlikely to pass through both the House and the Senate until the fall. The legislation will work through the committee process before then, but will need to wait for the FY18 budget resolution to initiate the reconciliation process.

To that end, Brady led Republican leaders and members of the House Ways and Means Committee in a two-day retreat last month to discuss their priorities for tax and ACA reform. During the retreat, members expressed concern about using reconciliation to pass the tax reform legislation, as doing so would result in most, if not all, of the tax cuts expiring after ten years. Additionally, reconciliation requires that the legislation be budget neutral.

Although Brady has said that they are already “in the ballpark [of neutrality] with the blueprint,” we are skeptical that the tax bill will be truly deficit-neutral, even using dynamic scoring, which allows the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to consider macroeconomic impacts when determining the budgetary effect of legislation. Doing so would, at a minimum, require that the House GOP include its controversial border trade adjustment proposal that is estimated to raise $1.2 trillion to offset the proposed tax rate cuts. Although incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus threw the Trump administration’s support behind the proposal in December, it has also gotten pushback from important constituents, including a group of 75 major corporations that wrote to Brady late last year with their concerns.

Consequently, at the December retreat, House Ways and Means members expressed an interest in pursuing comprehensive and permanent legislation. To do so, tax writers would either have to compromise with moderate Democrats to get to the 60 votes needed to pass the bill in the Senate, or (more likely in our view), they will give themselves more leeway by deciding to do away with the 60-vote filibuster requirement by invoking the “nuclear option.”

Infrastructure Investment/Spending

Trump has promised a major infrastructure investment initiative, but any infrastructure spending will need to wait until Congress has generated some revenue through tax reform before it stands a chance of getting passed. As Senator John Thune (R-SD), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, recently remarked, “I don’t know that just an infrastructure bill on its own, a stand alone, would probably go anywhere. But I think it’d have to be coupled with something that we view to be really advantageous in terms of growing and stimulating the economy.”

And even if they achieve tax reform, Republicans in Congress have not expressed much enthusiasm for Trump’s $550 billion, ten-year plan. The Trump plan is predicated on providing tax credits to catalyze private investment, but the problem with this is that the House GOP’s tax reform blueprint is premised on ending special interest credits and deductions—including net interest expense deductibility—to pay for it, not adding new ones. Additionally, infrastructure investment (in contrast to spending) requires a revenue-generating project, which could work with a toll road or an airport that produces user fees, but does not work with many highways, bridges, and other forms of infrastructure facing pressing repair needs that don’t necessarily produce a revenue stream.

Once tax reform comes to the forefront of legislative action, we expect President-elect Trump’s continued emphasis on transportation infrastructure investment in particular will likely soften congressional Republicans’ resistance—but not enough to come close to even the $550 billion number posted on the Trump transition team’s website. Rather, we do not expect the GOP-led Congress to dedicate more than half of that amount, at best, from the deemed repatriation of overseas corporate profits to meet infrastructure needs.

Finally, assuming that Congress does eventually approve funding of up to an additional $275 billion to upgrade the nation’s public transportation infrastructure, the question will then be to what extent will funds be allocated to repairing existing structures and how much will be used to build new projects. The former tends to create quicker, but shorter-term employment. In terms of the spend rate though, the latter takes much longer for the money to actually be disbursed to the companies that would benefit.

Overturning Obama Regulations

The House GOP has promised to overturn as many of the Obama-era regulations as it possibly can in the 115th Congress. To that end, the conservative House Freedom Caucus reportedly has a list of over 200 regulations that it hopes to overturn, including the Food and Drug Administration’s tobacco rules and executive orders that require higher wages for federal contractors.

Congress’s most powerful tool for overturning Obama rules at the beginning of the Trump administration is the Congressional Review Act (CRA). It gives Congress 60 legislative days to pass a resolution to block regulations before they take effect. The 60-day period does not include days when the House or Senate are in recess, which they have been for much of the campaign season.

Consequently, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) estimates that any rule passed after June 2nd, 2016 is subject to a CRA resolution. Importantly, rules that are passed in the last 60 days of a congressional session are subject to a reset at the end of that session to give Congress enough time to consider them. Thus, Congress has another 60 legislative days this year to address all of the rules finalized after June 2nd of last year. Additionally, as long as Congress follows certain procedures, the resolution is not subject to filibuster in the Senate, meaning it requires only a simple majority vote to pass—making it impossible for Democrats to block. The CRA has been used by Republicans five times this past year, but has been vetoed each time by President Obama.

Rules under discussion to be overturned include the Department of Interior’s Methane And Waste Prevention Rule, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Standards To Cut Emissions From The Oil And Gas Sector, and the Federal Communication Commission’s Broadband Privacy Rule.

Additionally, this week, the House is expected to pass the Midnight Rules Relief Act, which would allow them to overturn all of President Obama’s regulations subject to the CRA with one vote, and the Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) REINS Act, which would require congressional approval for all new “major” regulations, meaning regulations that cost more than $100 million. This week, the House is also expected to pass a resolution disapproving of the UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements on the West Bank, which President Obama let pass last month without objection.

These bills will still be unable to pass the Senate without 60 votes—meaning they are dead on arrival unless the Senate changes its longstanding filibuster rule.

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Posted in ACA, Conservative Party, Department of Transportation, Executive Branch, executive order, Infrastructure

DOT Releases Proposed Rule on Auto Communications Technology

The Department of Transportation (DOT) released a proposed rule on Tuesday mandating Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) communication technology be enabled in new cars and trucks by 2023. The rule intends to combat driving hazards by allowing cars to talk to each other and alerting drivers of potential hazards on the roads. The DOT stressed the value V2V communications would add in terms of safety mechanisms for passenger vehicles.  Already questions have been raised on how the mandate would be implemented with questions still open on how connected cars will share already limited spectrum.

Automakers have already discussed the need for flexible regulations for autonomous cars, but this proposed rule would impact their commercial production in a much more profound manner.  In the release of the proposed rule,  the Department of Transportation referred to V2V technology as a prerequisite for the development of a ”fully autonomous vehicle fleet.” Auto makers have made no clear indications that this is a mutually held belief.  Automakers want regulations to allow the freedom to invocate and include safety features in production vehicles that not only provide a high level of safety but are cost effective and commercially viable.  Their public comments on the proposed rule will likely present a clearer picture of what the auto industry foresees for the inclusion of V2V in autonomous vehicles and will simultaneously provide insight into future safety systems.  The public comment period is open for 90 days, closing on March 13th, 2017.

 

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Commission on Enhancing Cybersecurity Report Calls for Greater Investment

On Friday December 2nd the President’s Commission on Enhancing Cybersecurity (“Commission”) released their long-awaited Report on Securing and Growing the Digital Economy. The nonpartisan Commission was created in April by President Obama with the objective of examining U.S. cybersecurity policy and the determining “actionable recommendations” to secure the increasingly interdependent cyber infrastructure.  Given the increasingly number of intrusions, disruptions, manipulations and thefts due to cyber vulnerabilities, the report is apt in its expression that technological advancement is outpacing U.S. cybersecurity practices and policies. President-elect Trump had pledged to adopt several cybersecurity policies, one being a commission, very much like the Commission on Enhancing Cybersecurity. Thus this report should be welcomed by President-elect Trump as a formative step in his cybersecurity reform.

The report offers 16 recommendations and 53 “associated actions.” The recommendations are broken down into six major categories, including, protecting and securing information infrastructure; building cybersecurity workforce capabilities; and ensuring an open, fair and secure global digital economy. Amongst the recommendations, two are notable for different reason: the creation and appointment of an Ambassador for Cybersecurity, “to lead U.S. engagement with the international community on cybersecurity strategies, standards and practices;” and a larger focus on training and hiring cybersecurity professionals. The recommendation for a cyber ambassador is a major acknowledgment that cyber issues know no boundaries and the interconnected nature of the global economy presents a serious and international threat to trade and businesses. Meanwhile, the Commission placed a premium on introducing new incentives and investments in innovation to attract new cyber security professionals, signifying its intention to increase U.S. capabilities. In specific numbers, the report recommended creating a national cybersecurity workforce program with the aim of training 100,000 new cybersecurity professionals by 2020.

These major recommendations are not specifically what the President-elect called for during the campaign, but the general tone regarding the importance of stepping up the United States’ cyber capabilities, is reflective of his proposals. Both the report and Trump have been clear that U.S. is not reaching its greatest cyber potential and needs to be if it seeks to maintain its position as a global leader. This report provides a comprehensive plan to increasing U.S. focus and capabilities on cybersecurity.

Overall the report calls for investment in cybersecurity mechanisms, greater attention to the foibles that plague current U.S. cybersecurity policy, and strengthening of public–private sector dialogues involving cybersecurity. The Commission, although an Obama administration installation, is geared towards gaining the attention of President-elect Trump. However, until his intentions are made clear, the report will remain simply recommendations.

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House Passes 21st Century Cures Act

On November 30, 2016, the House overwhelmingly passed (392-26) the 21st Century Cures Act (“Bill”). The Bill moves on to the Senate next week and it is projected to pass in the Senate as well. Notably, the Bill seeks to improve upon the federal regulatory structure regarding Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approval and expediting the development of new drugs. Under the Bill, FDA funding would increase by $500 million. The Bill also provides for the authorization of new National Institutes of Health research grant funding, in the billions, including funding for Vice President Biden’s “moonshot” to cure cancer. Importantly, a proposed provision regarding reporting under the Sunshine Act was removed from the Bill. Specifically, the proposed provision would have exempted from the reporting requirements of the Physician Payment Sunshine Act payments from drug and device manufacturers to physicians for speaking at continuing medical education events and for contributing to medical textbooks, or medical journals.

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November 2016 Update on Significant DOT, FAA and Other Federal Agencies’ Aviation-Related Regulatory Actions

The most recent edition of the Cozen O’Connor Aviation Regulatory Update discusses DOT’s recently issued consumer protection rules and initiatives, the GAO’s report on air traffic control reorganization, DOT’s tentative approval of antitrust immunity for the Delta Air Lines/Aeromexico alliance, the FAA’s rulemaking on airline pilot professional development, DOT’s agreement with Southwest Airlines regarding the accessibility of the carrier’s airport kiosks, the DOT Inspector General’s reports on the effects of DOT’s tarmac delay rule on airline flight cancellations and the FAA’s progress in implementing NextGen, OFAC and BIS amendments to Cuba sanctions-related regulations and export controls, and the latest DOT and FAA enforcement actions.

Read the full update here.

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Understanding the Role of Connected Devices in Recent Cyber Attacks

On November 16, 2016 the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade and the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology held a hearing on “Understanding the Role of Connected Devices in Recent Cyber Attacks.” The hearing was in response to the unprecedented distribution denial of service (DDos) on October 21, 2016 which saw consumer websites such as Netflix, Twitter and CNN as well as others go down following a botnet attack directed from malware in millions of American devices. The hacked devices used maliciously, (known as bots or collectively as botnets) flooded these websites with junk traffic, overwhelming the sites and preventing them from being able to distinguish from legitimate traffic. The hearing focused on what vulnerabilities are present, possible solutions, possible ramifications of attacks on consumer devices, critical infrastructure and public safety mechanisms from a wide array of malicious actors.

The witnesses were industry experts, Dale Drew, of  Level 3 Communications; Kevin Fu, of  Virta Labs, and the University of Michigan; and Bruce Schneier, from the Berkman Klein Center, at Harvard University.

Chairman Greg Walden began the hearing highlighting the increasing use of technology in Americans daily lives, the dependence of Americans on the internet of things, devices that allow them to control elements of their lives, such as applications and devices that remotely unlock doors, baby monitors, and smart appliances. Many members of the subcommittee remarked how the DDoS attack stressed the importance to secure these devices without losing the benefits, the balance between functionality, innovation and security. Representative Marsha Blackburn made the important point that the internet of things is growing extremely quickly, the average American has more than three devices. This illustrates the widening gap of insecurity.

The expert witnesses were firm in their recommendations that while the DDoS attack in October 2016 was just on popular websites and not critical elements, that attacks towards critical apparatuses such as public safety mechanisms, hospital systems, and critical infrastructure points are highly likely. The internet of things devices have major security flaws that do not have built in security updates or patch mechanisms and consumers are greatly unaware of the threat posed by their devices. Mr. Schneier pointed out that many of these devices are the same, having the same basic configuration which, limits consumer control. He also pointed out the various elements that need to be secure, from software to hardware to internet communications. All three panelists discussed the lack of incentives for manufacturers to secure the devices or integrate security mechanism into the production. The panelist urged action for oversight due to the growth of the issue and inevitable nature of growth in vulnerabilities.

Mr. Fu added that regulations, standards and liabilities for security need to be “built in, not bolted on.” All panelists stressed the importance of addressing the vulnerabilities posed by the internet of things and the unprecedented threat that the United States faces. As in almost every cybersecurity field the government is clearly very far behind. As experts point out vulnerabilities in basic systems have and will only grow exponentially fast. The government is behind addressing these issues, these vulnerabilities. Greater oversight is called for because of the critical consequences attacks can and will have on both the public and private sectors.

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Post-Election Projections

I recently shared my reaction to how President-Elect Donald Trump may govern with the Philadelphia Business Journal in a post-election piece, “Greater Philadelphia business leaders react to Trump’s victory.” I said that the country can expect substantial shifts in policy “from health care to energy to financial services issues.” I added, “Everything is on the table and it creates opportunity to roll back some of the things that have been coming out of Washington that business feels are unfriendly.” I also was sure to note that while President-Elect Trump will have to learn how to work with Congress, there are also changes he can accomplish unilaterally through his executive power. “An example [of this] would be labor policy. The overtime rule that raised the standard for which employees could receive time and a half pay. That’s within the realm of the executive branch and he will have the business community in his face trying to influence him to make those type of changes and I think he will,” I explained. View the full article here.

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Department of Transportation Issues Guidance on Vehicle Cybersecurity

In the latest iteration of the Obama Administration’s cyber push, the Department of Transportation last week released guidance to the automotive industry regarding improving motor vehicle cybersecurity.

The guidance passed down from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers several key recommendations to auto makers and parts manufacturers, including ensuring that cars can respond and recover from cyber attacks, securing consumers’ personal data, and streamlining internal company communications regarding cybersecurity.

This twenty-two page guidance marks an important first step in both prioritizing cybersecurity among public and private transportation stakeholders as well as recognizing the research and public comment that is required before taking meaningful steps to securing vehicles from cyber threats. However, given the rapidly changing dynamics of transportation technology, the federal government must get out in front of emerging threats rather than employ a reactive and delayed response to threats that will have already quickly become surpassed by more advanced methods of attack.

Cyber is not an area where the government can afford to be slow paced. Technology changes rapidly in both sophistication and precision, and federal guidance must not match but surpass the pace of that growth. The rise of self-driving cars is especially indicative of Department of Transportation’s need to stop trailing industry trends. As this new industry sees explosive growth that is not matched by important cyber safety checks, public safety will be put in harm’s way.

The government’s response to technological advancement has been lampooned before, even by those on the inside. President Obama has called for greater regulatory innovation with regard to technology in order to replace “old creaky systems.” Simply pointing out these creaky systems is not nearly enough, however; they must be either oiled or replaced before they collapse.

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Trump’s New Cyber Security Plan?

With the recent news regarding Yahoo’s massive data breach and the continuing posting of Clinton Foundation emails by Wikileaks, cybersecurity policy is beginning to get the discourse it is due. Secretary Clinton’s campaign was swift to publish a lengthy briefing on her cybersecurity policy agenda when she declared her candidacy. Much of it focuses on investment and development in science and technology. In a speech in August Clinton called for cyber-attacks to be treated as an assault on the country and should require “a serious political, economic and military response.” However, the plurality of Secretary Clinton cyber proposals would likely continue much of the Obama Administration’s own cybersecurity policy.

Mr. Trump had no cybersecurity platform available or had even discussed a policy platform until a recent speech to the Retired American Warriors PAC in Virginia in early October. Prior to the speech Trump had said little other than to admonish the failure of U.S. cybersecurity policy. In his speech, Mr. Trump outlined cybersecurity as “an immediate and top priority” for his administration and put forward his plan for strengthening American cybersecurity. At the core of Mr. Trump’s policy suggestions was a panel of “our best military, civilian and private sector cybersecurity experts.” This Cyber Review Team would undertake a “comprehensive review” of U.S. cybersecurity systems and technologies. Among its responsibilities would be to “establish detailed protocols” and “remaining current on evolving methods of cyber-attack.”

What’s the issue with this seemingly harmless and possibly efficient idea?

President Obama had the idea first and it’s already underway. In February of this year the White House issued the Cybersecurity National Action Plan. The first order of business was the creation of a “Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity.” Like Trump’s, this commission would also be formed of public and private sector thinkers and a bipartisan congressional delegation. The commission’s mandate is to “make recommendations on actions that can be taken over the next decade to strengthen cybersecurity in both the public and private sectors.” The commission members who were announced in April 2016 include: Tom Donilon, former National Security advisor, General Keith Alexander, former Director of the NSA and former Director of U.S. Cyber Command, Joe Sullivan, Chief Security Officer of Uber and former Security Officer of Facebook, Annie Antón, Professor and Chair of the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech, and Ajay Banga, President and CEO of Mastercard. These are only a selected few examples of the twelve member commission but the commission clearly represent military, civilian and private sector experts in cybersecurity.

Other than his Cyber Review Team, Mr. Trump hasn’t offered any other solid cybersecurity recommendations. Neither major party candidate is offering real solutions to a critical crisis that is unfolding. Hackings and intrusions will not dissipate but will only grow in size and aggression barring any serious attention by the federal government. At least in this element Secretary Clinton and Mr. Trump agree: cyber is of increasing importance for U.S. national security, infrastructure and business and should be taken much more seriously. This understanding is not enough to prevent potentially debilitating attacks in the future.

Cybersecurity is a dynamic and fast-paced policy realm. Technology is ever-changing and requires almost constant attention and modernization. The federal government’s bureaucratic nature prevents any meaningful progress, both in establishing policy and enacting it. Because of this much of federal level policy making is playing catch-up. Cybersecurity needs greater attention at the executive level. The federal government needs a greater understanding of cybersecurity’s ever evolving nature and a determination to lead the field. These principles apply to whomever becomes the next President.

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For many businesses, nothing seems more remote than the maneuvering of Beltway insiders. But what happens in Washington and in state and local government is critically important to your company and your industry. With government more involved in business than at any time since the 1930s, organizations that can negotiate the government labyrinth of politics, policy, and process will come out on top.
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