[Congressional Record: May 10, 2006 (House)]
[Page H2466-H2472]                 


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 806 and rule 
XVIII, the Chair declares the House in the Committee of the Whole House 
on the State of the Union for the further consideration of the bill, 
H.R. 5122.

                Amendment No. 7 Offered by Mr. Simmons

  Mr. SIMMONS. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.
  The Acting CHAIRMAN (Mr. Duncan). The Clerk will designate the 
  The text of the amendment is as follows:

       Amendment No. 7 printed in House Report 109-459 offered by 
     Mr. Simmons:
       At the end of title X (page 393, after line 23), insert the 
     following new section:


       (a) Prohibition on Expired Clearances.--No security 
     clearance granted by the Department of Defense that has been 
     requested to be renewed, based on a requirement for periodic 
     reinvestigation, shall be permitted to expire until the 
     Secretary of Defense certifies to the congressional defense 
     committees and the Committee on Homeland Security and 
     Governmental Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on 
     Government Reform of the House of Representatives that--
       (1) the Defense Security Service has continued to accept 
     industry requests for new personnel security clearances and 
     periodic reinvestigations; and
       (2) the Defense Security Service has fully funded its 
     requirement for fiscal year 2007 security clearances and 
     taken steps to eliminate its backlog of requests for security 
     clearance and periodic investigations by September 20, 2008.
       (b) Exception to Prohibition.--The prohibition in 
     subsection (a) shall not apply if the Secretary of Defense 
     determines that sufficient cause exists to revoke a security 
     clearance, that has been requested to be renewed, based on 
     other requirements of law or Department of Defense policy or 
       (c) Duration of Prohibition.--The prohibition on expired 
     clearances authorized by this section expires on September 
     30, 2008.
       (d) Rule of Construction.--Nothing in this section alters 
     the process in effect as of the date of the enactment of this 
     Act for security clearances and periodic investigations.
       (e) Definition.--In this section, the term ``backlog'' 
     means the body of industry requests for new personnel 
     security clearances and periodic reinvestigations that have 
     not yet been completed or that have not yet been opened for 
       (f) Reports.--The Secretary of Defense shall submit to the 
     Committee on Armed Services of the Senate and the Committee 
     on Armed Services of the House of Representatives a report 
     detailing the actions required by subsection (a)(2) no later 
     than September 30, 2007. A final report shall be submitted no 
     later than September 30, 2008.

  The Acting CHAIRMAN. Pursuant to House Resolution 806, the gentleman 
from Connecticut (Mr. Simmons) and a Member opposed each will control 5 
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Connecticut.
  Mr. SIMMONS. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  First, I would like to commend Chairman Hunter and Mr. Bartlett, as 
well as Mr. Skelton and Mr. Taylor for their leadership and vision on 
this bill. This bill is particularly historic with respect to the 
shipbuilding programs that it supports.
  But I am rising today, Mr. Chairman, to offer a bipartisan amendment 
that would protect our industrial base workers from losing their jobs 
because of the failure of our Federal bureaucracy to process security 
clearances and periodic updates. Last month, without

[[Page H2469]]

warning or notice to Congress, the Defense Security Service stopped 
processing security clearance background checks and periodic updates 
for defense contractor workers.
  What makes this most frustrating is the fact that the Department of 
Defense said it had fixed the security clearance problems last year 
when it transferred responsibility for these investigations to the 
Office of Personnel Management. Many of us who have defense workers in 
our district questioned DSS on that point, but they were emphatic that 
OPM could get the job done.
  Well, Mr. Chairman, they were wrong. We cannot allow their failure to 
result in cleared defense workers losing their jobs.
  Very simply, this amendment would prevent the Department of Defense 
from firing workers whose security clearance may have expired through 
no fault of their own. It does not change the security clearance 
process or prevent the Department from revoking security clearances for 
reasons other than the backlog, but it does protect our workers who 
currently have clearances that simply need to be updated.
  Those already at work eventually need renewals to stay on the job, 
and there are thousands of shipyard workers in my district and 
elsewhere across the country who need clearances updated to design and 
build the best ships in the world. But we must give these defense 
workers peace of mind that they won't be out on the street because of a 
botched job in the bowels of the Pentagon.
  Our amendment has support from both sides of the aisle as well as 
from numerous national security organizations, and I include for the 
Record a list of these associations. I urge my colleagues to support 
the Simmons-Davis-Davis amendment to keep American defense workers at 

Security Clearance Coalition Supports Simmons/Davis Amendment to H.R. 

       The associations listed below have joined in coalition to 
     work to address the significant problems their members 
     encounter negotiating the security granting process. All of 
     the problems that this process has experienced for the last 
     several years were severely compounded when the Defense 
     Security Service placed a moratorium on the acceptance of new 
     security clearance applications and applications for periodic 
     reinvestigations at the end of April.
       The coalition supports the Simmons/Davis amendment as a 
     positive first step toward reversing the impact of this 
     decision and to mitigating its impact. While the ability to 
     attract, hire and retain qualified personnel who are able to 
     get a clearance has been greatly impacted, this proposal will 
     at least assure those that currently employed and holding a 
     clearance that their job will not be impacted because of 
     their inability to submit an application for reinvestigation.
       The actions by DSS are symptomatic of the chronic problems 
     found in the Federal government's security granting process. 
     We hope that Congress will act to mitigate the impact of this 
     action by adopting the Simmons/Davis amendment. It is also 
     our hope that Congress will recognize the need to overhaul 
     the entire clearance granting process and work with this 
     coalition and others to bring about a more enlightened and 
     21st Century approach to providing trusted personnel to meet 
     our National Security needs.
       Please vote yes in support of the Simmons/Davis Amendment.

     Aerospace Industries Association
     Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association
     Contract Services Association
     Information Technology Association of America
     Intelligence and National Security Alliance
     National Defense Industrial Association
     Professional Services Council

  Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. BUTTERFIELD. Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent to claim the 
time in opposition even though I support the amendment.
  The Acting CHAIRMAN. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from North Carolina?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. BUTTERFIELD. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may 
  Mr. Chairman, it is critical that our Department of Defense provides 
clearances to the right people to get access to the right information 
so they can do their jobs in support of our troops. Access to 
classified information should be need driven rather than budget driven.
  For this reason, I urge my colleagues to support the amendment. I 
want to thank the gentleman for bringing this amendment forward. It is 
a fair amendment, and I ask and urge its adoption.
  Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. SIMMONS. Mr. Chairman, I yield such time as he may consume to the 
gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Tom Davis).
  Mr. TOM DAVIS of Virginia. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in strong 
support of the Simmons-Davis-Davis amendment in the defense 
authorization bill.
  This amendment will safeguard national security and ensure fiscal 
responsibility by preventing the security clearances of defense 
contractors from expiring until the Department of Defense resumes 
processing their requests for security clearance investigations and 
fully funds its personnel security clearance program for fiscal year 
2007. I urge all of my colleagues to support this amendment.
  On Friday, April 28, I discovered DOD's security clearance processing 
arm, the Defense Security Service, was imposing a moratorium on all 
requests for private sector security clearance investigations. DSS 
reported that it experienced a massive spike in the number of clearance 
requests and that it didn't have the resources to handle this spike. 
DSS, therefore, decided to just turn off the spigot. This is, frankly, 
unacceptable. It is an unacceptable solution to what should have been a 
very foreseeable problem.
  I will be chairing a Government Reform Committee hearing on May 17 to 
examine this issue in more detail. In the meantime we cannot put 
defense contractors that need to review employees' clearances in the 
position of having to choose between firing their employees or granting 
uncleared personnel access to classified materials and facilities.
  The government spends billions of dollars each year on defense 
contracts requiring workers with security clearances to do the work. If 
contractors are unable to find enough cleared personnel who have access 
to classified information, the cost of these contracts increases 
dramatically. Simply supply and demand, not enough people with the 
clearance, too much work to do, and the taxpayers are then forced to 
pick up the tab and our national security suffers.
  Therefore, I rise in strong support of the Simmons-Davis-Davis 
amendment to prevent the Department of Defense from revoking expiring 
security clearances until DOD is able to get a handle on the current 
crisis and resume processing requests for security clearance 
investigations in a timely and efficient manner.
  This amendment does not fix the problem, but it keeps it from getting 
worse. It is an important issue for national security and fiscal 
responsibility. I urge my colleagues to support this important 
  Mr. SIMMONS. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of my time, and 
thank the chairman and my colleagues from across the aisle for bringing 
fairness and peace of mind to our defense workers.
  Mrs. JO ANN DAVIS of Virginia. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in strong 
support of this amendment that I am offering with my colleagues from 
Connecticut and Virginia.
  As we continue to fight the Global War on Terror, the Department of 
Defense must adapt to meet the challenges posed by this new kind of 
war. I believe that it is our responsibility in Congress to exercise 
proper oversight and direction of our military, and the recent 
developments regarding the processing of security clearances deserve 
the attention of this body.
  In our post 9/11 world, the need for precise and timely security 
clearance processing has never been more important. The demand for 
clearances of all types and levels continues to increase, yet our 
budgets and our processes are not up to date.
  I represent thousands of workers in my district who rely on their 
security clearance to perform their jobs, from the shipbuilders in 
Newport News to the thousands of uniformed service members and 
contractors that are working to support our national defense. In fact, 
I've heard from a lot of them in the last few weeks. Our amendment will 
temporarily prohibit the Department of Defense's authority to expire 
clearances that have requested renewal until September 30, 2008, unless 
certain criteria are met. I firmly believe that we should not be 
penalizing our military and contracting community because the 
Department cannot adequately estimate or budget its future security 
clearance requirements.
  Additionally, I'm pleased that a separate amendment offered by 
Congressman Simmons

[[Page H2470]]

and myself was included in the underlying legislation that is before 
the House today. The provision requires the Department to submit a 
series of reports on their progress in solving these problems, and I 
believe this is an important step in our congressional oversight of 
this extremely vital program for our national defense. I want to thank 
Chairman Hunter for working with me on this issue.
  I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of our amendment.
  Mr. SIMMONS. Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The Acting CHAIRMAN. All time for debate has expired.
  The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from 
Connecticut (Mr. Simmons).
  The amendment was agreed to.