Tech issues get new lease on life

With Republicans in control of Congress, President Bush called on lawmakers to pass legislation to create the proposed Homeland Security Department before the end of the year.

"The single most important item of unfinished business on Capitol Hill is creating a unified body to protect the American people," Bush said at a White House news conference Nov. 7.

It is "imperative" that Congress put a bill on his desk by the end of the lame-duck session that begins Nov. 12 creating a Cabinet-level department bringing together an array of homeland defense functions, the president said.

Senate Democrats had been holding up the legislation in a dispute over whether to exempt federal employees working in the proposed department from civil service and other labor protections. But now with Republican control, the logjam is expected to be broken.

"Moving forward with this bill will definitely impact government IT positively, since the House-passed bill recognizes the critical role technology must play in protecting our homeland," said David Marin, spokesman for Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee's Technology and Procurement subcommittee.

Marin said GOP control over both chambers "offers an opportunity to move some bills that have been stalled in the Senate." Among them is Davis's Digital Tech Corps legislation that passed the House in April but hasn't made it through the Senate. The measure would allow mid-level IT managers in federal agencies and private companies to swap jobs for at least six months and as long as two years.

In the Senate, Democrats and Republicans say they always have been working together on technology issues and expect the partnership to continue, according to David Carle, spokesman for Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee who will lose the job to Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah.

"Sen. Leahy and Sen. Hatch have been known for working especially closely together on technology issues and that partnership likely would continue," Carle said.

And a spokeswoman for Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) said, "We are hoping for some faster action on some IT issues. Hopefully, things will start to move."

The first order of business when Congress returns Nov. 12 for a lame-duck session is continuing funding for government operations. To date, Congress has been unable to pass appropriations bills for fiscal 2003 that are chock full of money for IT projects. It is likely that lawmakers will pass a short-term bill to keep government running at its current levels and deal with the problem when the 108th Congress is sworn into office in January.


  • Defense
    Ryan D. McCarthy being sworn in as Army Secretary Oct. 10, 2019. (Photo credit: Sgt. Dana Clarke/U.S. Army)

    Army wants to spend nearly $1B on cloud, data by 2025

    Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said lack of funding or a potential delay in the JEDI cloud bid "strikes to the heart of our concern."

  • Congress
    Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) at the Hack the Capitol conference Sept. 20, 2018

    Jim Langevin's view from the Hill

    As chairman of of the Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committe and a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rhode Island Democrat Jim Langevin is one of the most influential voices on cybersecurity in Congress.

Stay Connected


Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.