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Senator Seeks Answers on Customs Outage that Caused Airport Delays Across the U.S.

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.




                                                                        BILL NELSON

                                                                        Ranking Member

Thune Reintroduces MOBILE NOW Act on First Day of 115th Congress

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, reintroduced S. 19, the MOBILE NOW Act, which proposes reforms to boost the development of next-generation 5G wireless broadband by ensuring more spectrum is made available for commercial use and by reducing the red tape associated with building wireless networks.

Thune Announces Republican Members on Commerce Committee

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, announced the Republican members who will serve on the committee in the 115th Congress.

WCOE Turning Point for 1/3

Turning Point RSS - Tue, 01/03/2017 - 11:58am

WCOE Members Appointed to 2017 Caltrans Statewide Small Business Council

WCOE News - Tue, 01/03/2017 - 11:36am

The Department of Transportation Office of Business and Economic Opportunity has announced the representatives to the 2017 Caltrans Statewide Small Business Council. Women Construction Owners & Executives, USA National will be represented by WCOE member Rebecca Llewellyn and WCOE California Chapter will be represented by WCOE Member Lee Cunningham.

The Caltrans Small Business Council strives to assist Caltrans with providing consistency in the execution of the Small Business program including DBEs and DVBEs, removing systemic barriers where feasible through policy level initiatives and directives and maximizing opportunities for increasing the participation of small businesses in Caltrans projects.

Categories: Latest News

Will Federal Circuit Finally Bring an End to “Form 18” Minimal Pleading for Direct Patent Infringement in 2017?

WLF Legal Pulse - Tue, 01/03/2017 - 9:00am
Guest Commentary By J High, Sidley Austin LLP* In Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, the US Supreme Court tightened the pleading standard for civil cases.  Because of a quirk of the exemplary forms formerly included with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (specifically, Form 18), the US Court of Appeals for […]
Categories: Latest News

A Better Way Begins Today

House Small Business Committee News - Tue, 01/03/2017 - 12:00am

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). 

WLF’s ‘Gordon v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’ Supreme Court Petition Evaluated in Law Firm’s Year-End Assessment of CFPB

WLF Legal Pulse - Fri, 12/30/2016 - 10:52am
In a year-end assessment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), attorneys from the law firm K&L Gates LLP evaluated the potential impact of Gordon v. CFPB, a constitutional challenge in which Washington Legal Foundation has filed a certiorari petition with the US Supreme Court on behalf of its client, Chance Gordon. In the Legal […]
Categories: Latest News

GSA announces issuance of RFP – Phase I for the new Department of Labor (DOL) headquarters

GSA news releases - Tue, 12/27/2016 - 12:00am
GSA announces issuance of RFP – Phase I for the new Department of Labor (DOL) headquarters

EPA Fracking Report Deliberately Ignores Key Studies to Embrace Inconclusive Results

WLF Legal Pulse - Fri, 12/23/2016 - 10:22am
*Grace Galvin, a Communications Associate at WLF who received her JD from Charleston School of Law and is pursuing a Master’s in Journalism and Public Affairs at American University, contributed significantly to this post. “A blessing” is the description Franklin Bess used to convey his feelings toward the oil and natural gas industry, as long […]
Categories: Latest News

GSA Awards Construction Contract for New Port of Entry in Columbus, New Mexico

GSA news releases - Fri, 12/23/2016 - 12:00am
New Port to help support Customs and Border Protection’s mission

‘Amicus’ Briefs Support WLF’s ‘Gordon v. CFPB’ Cert Petition on Appointments Clause and Standing Issues

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 12/22/2016 - 2:52pm
On November 17, 2016, Washington Legal Foundation petitioned the US Supreme Court to review a US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decision, Gordon v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. CFPB had pursued a substantial fine against WLF’s client, Chance Gordon, in June 2013, a time during which the Bureau lacked a properly appointed Director. Mr. […]
Categories: Latest News

Should Pharmaceutical Manufacturers be Forced to Produce a Product Against Their Will?

WLF Legal Pulse - Tue, 12/20/2016 - 6:29pm
As the beginning of a new administration nears, politicians and pundits have been floating many ideas for regulating the cost and availability of pharmaceuticals and other medical treatments. One of the worst ideas being discussed is the judicial creation of a common-law duty to manufacture. Thankfully, there are significant Constitutional and judicial hurdles preventing this […]
Categories: Latest News

USDA, Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration Seeks Comments on Its Interim Final Rule on the Scope of Sections 202(a) and (b) of the Packers and Stockyards Act

Office of Advocacy - Tue, 12/20/2016 - 3:21pm

On December 20, 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) published an interim final rule amending regulations issued under the original Packers and Stockyards Act (P&S Act) of 1921. The rule aims to clarify conduct or actions that may violate sections 202(a) and (b) of the P&S Act. The regulations would change the scope of sections 202(a) and (b) to include conduct or actions, that depending on the circumstances, can be found to violate the P&S Act without a finding of harm or likely harm to competition.

Categories: Latest News, SBA Advocate

WCOE Turning Point for 12/20

Turning Point RSS - Tue, 12/20/2016 - 1:10pm

Foxx: Time for New Leadership and a New Direction at the Labor Department

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 12/20/2016 - 12:00am

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.

One Last 2016 Senate Commerce Bill Heads to White House

The bill encourages scientific entrepreneurship, maximizes research opportunities, reduces administrative burdens for researchers, and promotes oversight of taxpayer-funded research. It also enhances diversity in STEM fields, private-sector innovation, and manufacturing.


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