|Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 9.8.14
Monday, September 8, 2014 â€“
Immigration Reform Update
Since taking office, President Obama has promised to take action on immigration reform. He guaranteed he would do so in his first year in office. When the Democrats controlled the House and the Senate, he focused instead on other issues, including Obamacare.
More recently, in late June, the President said he planned to use his executive authority by the end of summer to change our immigration system without Congress.
However, on Saturday, September 6, it was announced that President Obama, bowing to pressure from some in his party including Senators in contested races this year, will be delaying his unilateral â€śamnesty by executive actionâ€ť until after the November election. White House officials are quoted in the press as saying he â€świll take action on immigration before the end of the year.â€ť
His plans are highly controversial, lack Congressional support, and, if rumors about the plans are true, the plans may be unconstitutional. Delaying them until after the elections is shamelessly political. If President Obama wants to see changes to our immigration system, he should work with Congress and demonstrate he can be trusted to enforce our nationâ€™s laws as written.
Constitutionally, he cannot rewrite laws on his own.
Politically, his ideas must not be popular or he wouldnâ€™t fear the November elections.
Obamacare Website Hacked in July
Late last week, the Wall Street Journal first reported that a hacker had breached the Obamacare website in July, uploading malicious software to the site. Though the site stores personal information including Social Security numbers, financial data, and more, the report notes that the investigators who had discovered the July hack in late August â€śâ€¦found no evidence that consumersâ€™ personal data were taken or viewed during the breachâ€¦.â€ť
This is very troubling, though unfortunately it is not very surprising. I and others have been very concerned about the security of the Obamacare website, especially given the many technical difficulties revealed during its launch in October of last year.
In fact, a little more than a month after its botched launch, the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a November 19, 2013 hearing on the security of the Obamacare website. Testifying at this hearing was Mr. Henry Chao, Deputy Chief Information Officer and Deputy Director of the Office of Information Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the project manager of the Obamacare website.
Among the issues I asked Mr. Chao about was a memorandum signed by Marilyn Tavenner, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, that states, â€śDue to system readiness issues, the [Security Control Assessment] SCA was only partly completed. This constitutes a risk that must be accepted and mitigated to support the Marketplace Day 1 operations.â€ť
The Obamacare website holds information about millions of Americans that certain criminals would surely love to get their hands on. That the American people are required to provide data to the government is problematic. But in return, once the data is given to the government, the government ought to protect it.
As you may recall, on January 10 of this year, the House of Representatives passed the Health Exchange Security and Transparency Act (H.R. 3811). This bill would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to promptly notify people if their personal data provided to the Obamacare website is breached. Despite objections from the Administration, 67 Democrats joined Republicans in voting for it.
Among them was Representative Steve Israel (D-NY), a member of the House Democrat leadership team. Rep. Israel is reported as having said in a statement, â€śI voted for this bill because I want to make sure confidential information is protected. Thatâ€™s just common sense.â€ť
I agree - common sense it is. Unfortunately this bill, like 345 others, has yet to be acted on by the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and those Senators who support him and his style of politics need to let this bill and other good, common-sense ideas from the House be voted on. Especially given the recent hack of Obamacareâ€™s website, I vehemently urge them to take action on this bill. It is past time that the American people are given peace of mind that their personal information provided to the Obamacare website is secure and protected.
As always, if you have concerns or comments or wish to inquire about legislative issues, feel free to contact my offices. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.