WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) is demanding answers after a nationwide U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) computer outage created long lines and frayed nerves at airports nationwide during one of the busiest travel days of the year. Yesterday’s outage, the root cause of which has yet to be determined, impacted airline passengers at airports in South Florida, Atlanta, New York, Boston and Los Angeles, among others.
In a letter sent today to the head of CBP, Nelson, who serves as the top Democrat on a Senate panel that oversees the Federal Aviation Administration, asked for a full accounting of the incident, including whether any hacking was to blame.
“We’ve got to figure out why this happened and how we’re going to prevent outages in the future.” Nelson wrote. “And, given the recent reports of suspected Russian hacking, we also have to be absolutely sure no foreign-sponsored bad actors were involved.”
This was not the first time CBP computers experienced problems that caused long lines and passenger headaches around the country. A similar incident occurred in October 2015.
Below is the text of Nelson’s letter.
January 3, 2017
The Honorable R. Gil Kerlikowske
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20229
Dear Commissioner Kerlikowske:
I write to request an update from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on the recent computer outage that took place at several airports across the country, including South Florida. This outage resulted in an untold number of travelers waiting for several hours to process through Customs checkpoints, with many missing their connecting flights during one of the year’s busiest travel days.
Given that this is not the first time such a malfunction has happened, I would like a full accounting of the incident. We’ve got to figure out why this happened and how we’re going to prevent outages in the future. And, given the recent reports of suspected Russian hacking, we also have to be absolutely sure no foreign-sponsored bad actors were involved. This is especially critical given CBP’s national security mission to safeguard our borders.
Your attention to this matter is appreciated, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
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Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act Introduced on Day 1 of New Congress
WASHINGTON - House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) kicked off the 115th Congress by introducing H.R. 33, the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2017.
The bill forces federal regulators to craft smarter, less burdensome regulations that take into consideration their direct and reasonably foreseeable indirect economic effects, especially on small businesses.
“Small businesses are often hit first and worst by regulatory decisions made by Washington bureaucrats with little to no consideration about what they will mean for small businesses and their employees,” said Chairman Chabot. “The Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act represents a better way to grow our economy by ensuring that small businesses are no longer an afterthought in federal rulemaking. By giving small businesses and the people who depend on them a say in the regulations they must live under, it will force the federal government to think about what is best for our job creators before it acts, not after.”
The Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act strengthens and clarifies the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) of 1980. In the over 36 years since the RFA was enacted, agencies have exploited loopholes to get around the good-government intentions of the original legislation. The Internal Revenue Service frequently uses these loopholes to avoid RFA compliance. Chairman Chabot’s bill closes these loopholes by requiring more detailed analysis of proposed regulations, providing greater opportunity for small business input, and ensuring agencies regularly review regulations already on the books for their economic impact on small businesses.
Original Cosponsors: Goodlatte (R-VA), Marino (R-PA), Radewagen (R-AS), Knight (R-CA), Cuellar (D-TX), Graves (R-MO), Sessions (R-TX), King (R-IA), Kelly (R-MS), Tipton (R-CO), Curbelo (R-FL), Hultgren (R-IL), and Luetkemeyer (R-MO).
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Time for New Leadership and a New Direction at the Labor Department
By Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), incoming-chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce
In the new year, a new secretary will take the helm of the Department of Labor. Working families and small business owners face tough challenges, and they desperately need a labor secretary who will put their interests — not special interests — first. Andy Puzder is just the man for the job.
Puzder has real-world experience creating jobs, and he knows that American workers and business owners both need to thrive. He will provide a sharp break from the failed policies of the last eight years.
Time and again, the Department of Labor under President Obama has pushed extreme and partisan rules that will do a lot of harm and little good. Under the guise of helping working families, the heavy-handed regulations of Secretary Perez will actually hurt working families.
Take the department's fundamentally flawed overtime rule. The central planners at the department claim the rule will provide workers a pay raise, when in reality it will raise costs on small businesses, destroy jobs, decrease real income for families, and make it harder for low-wage workers to climb the ladder of opportunity.
The Obama administration likes to talk about "fairness," but it is not fair to impose a rule that creates this much havoc across the country. There is also nothing fair about a regulatory scheme that restricts access to affordable retirement advice for low- and middle-income families, or rules that stack the deck in favor of union bosses at the expense of working Americans.
It's because of misguided policies like these that we have experienced the slowest economic recovery since the Great Depression. That's why wages have been largely stagnant and why there are fewer manufacturing jobs today than when President Obama took office.
For years, bureaucrats who have never owned a business have micromanaged the business decisions of employers, and the consequences speak for themselves. Fortunately, Puzder will bring the change workers and employers desperately need.
Under his strong leadership, CKE Restaurants has thrived and grown to more than 3,700 restaurants worldwide. CKE restaurants and franchises in the United States employ more than 75,000 men and women. Puzder will bring a fresh perspective and practical experience to help solve America's economic challenges.
He will make sure that creating jobs for hardworking Americans comes first. He will work to eliminate unnecessary government regulations that suppress growth and wages, and he will help restore balance to federal labor policies. He will also take a responsible approach to federal overtime policies to ensure they do not harm hard-working Americans trying to advance in the workforce.
With Puzder leading the Department of Labor, Americans who feel left behind will have a strong ally who will fight for them. Through hard work and determination, Puzder has achieved the American Dream, and he wants all Americans to be able to turn their dreams into reality too.
There is no shortage of challenges to tackle in the coming months, but we have an historic opportunity to advance bold, conservative reforms that will help begin a new era of prosperity for our country.
As the next chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, I look forward to working with Andy Puzder and our new president, Donald Trump. Together, we will turn back the failed policies of the last eight years, send a message to the world that America is open for business, and help more families achieve a lifetime of opportunity and success.