Washington Waves
Washington Waves

House To Take Up Infrastructure Bills

Washington, D.C.—The House is expected to interrupt its traditional August break to take up a trillion-dollar traditional infrastructure bill and a budget framework for a $3.5 trillion human infrastructure package.

Both have passed the Senate with the blessing of President Joe Biden, but differences among House Democrats on which measure should move first may threaten the fate of both.

To get past that intraparty rift, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has proposed a procedural move to cover both measures.

“This will put us on a path to advance the infrastructure bill and the reconciliation bill,” Pelosi said in a letter to her fellow Democrats.

Initial reaction indicates her move might not be enough for moderate Democrats who want the bipartisan infrastructure bill to be passed quickly.

That bill includes about $17 billion for ports and waterways.

Pelosi plans to delay the final vote on that bipartisan bill to help move the larger reconciliation package, which is not expected to win any Republican votes.

In her letter, Pelosi said her plans are to forge ahead with “a bold and historic agenda” that will stand alongside Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. 

Her party currently controls the House with only an eight-vote majority, which gives her little room to maneuver.

QNX Security Warning

Members of the maritime community have been encouraged to examine their systems for BlackBerry QNX versions 6.5 or below or any products listed by the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency in ICSA-21-119-04: Multiple RTOS (Update B).

“The recent public disclosure from BlackBerry regarding the “BadAlloc” vulnerability in their QNX OS versions 6.5 and earlier should put all organizations on continued alert for threats and vulnerabilities to the cyber landscape,” the Coast Guard Command, Maritime Cyber Readiness Branch, stated in Maritime Cyber Alert 02-21.

A device with these exploitable vulnerabilities may enable malicious actors to deny system availability, ex-filtrate data and move laterally within the systems in which they are installed, leading to loss of data, physical harm and even loss of life, the agency warned.

Organizations that identify a vulnerability or have questions related to this alert were asked to contact the Coast Guard at: maritimecyber@uscg.mil or for immediate assistance call the Coast Guard Cyber Command 24×7 Watch at 202-372-2904.

Cutter Delays

Top leaders of a key House committee asked a watchdog agency to review the “significant delivery delays” of two Coast Guard cutters.

A press release issued by Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Sam Graves (R-Mo.), chairman and ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, called the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) fleet the “largest vessel procurement the Coast Guard has undertaken, and the Polar Security Cutter acquisition is the most complex.”

Citing the significant budgetary commitment Congress and the Coast Guard have made for the OPC program to date, continued oversight is necessary to ensure the program does not continue to experience cost growth or additional schedule delays, the two lawmakers stated in a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) comptroller general.

In a second letter about the Polar Security Cutters (PSCs), they asked the GAO to review the management of the program and the Coast Guard’s efforts to address icebreaking capability gaps until the PSCs are fully operational.

Asked for a comment, the Coast Guard said it welcomes the opportunity to work with the GAO to assess the current status of the cutter acquisition programs, especially given the impacts of COVID-19 on the U.S. shipbuilding industry.

“The Coast Guard remains committed to working side-by-side with the shipbuilders and GAO to identify and mitigate any delays to delivering these vital assets to the fleet,” the statement added.

Homendy Heads NTSB

Jennifer Homendy, who joined the National Transportation Safety Board in 2018, became the agency’s 15th chair on August 13. Nominated by President Joe Biden, Homendy was confirmed by the Senate by voice vote.

“We are in a time of dynamic change and growth within transportation, from automated vehicles to commercial space,” she said.

“This means that our mission to prevent tragedies and injuries and save lives is even more critical.”

Homendy is the fourth woman to lead the NTSB and one of 11 women who have served as a board member.

Previously she served as the Democratic staff director of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials and held positions with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO and the American Iron & Steel Institute.

International Cargo Restrictions

Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), who has used his chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to support his state’s ports, recently toured the Port of Monroe, Mich., with Troy Miller, acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and other key officials.

Peters issued a press release stating the group discussed ongoing cargo clearance challenges faced by the port, which has been restricted by CBP’s field office from accepting international break bulk cargo and international maritime containers unless it invests in screening technology and other infrastructure upgrades.

Peters previously has pressed CBP on what he considers unequal requirements placed on the Port of Monroe.

In 2018, Peters cosponsored a bipartisan bill signed into law requiring federal officials to assess all ports of entry to find ways to reduce wait times for passengers and cargo at the border.

Great Lakes Advisory Board

The Great Lakes Advisory Board (GLAB) is scheduled to hold a virtual conference in late August.

Set to begin at 1 p.m. CDT on August 30 and 9 a.m. CDT on August 31, the sessions are open to the public, but pre-registration is required.

Those wishing to view the meeting or participate must register by 3 p.m. CDT on August 23 at https://event.capconcorp.com/form/view.php?id=127543.

The meeting agenda and other materials for the virtual conference will be posted on the GLAB website at www.glri.us/glab.

For additional information, contact Edlynzia Barnes at 312-886-6249.

Marine Debris Foundation

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has reopened its solicitation of nominations for the Marine Debris Foundation Board of Directors.

Nominations now must be received by 11:59 p.m. on August 27 and can be emailed to marinedebris.foundation@noaa.gov.

Established as a charitable organization, the board administers private gifts of property to benefit efforts addressing marine debris.

For additional information, contact Caitlin Wessel at 251-222-0276.