Schiff tackles tough issues in Congress

U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) has kept a busy calendar this year, especially since he was named Ranking Member on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence — a move that increased his national visability.

On Tuesday, Schiff joined several of his colleagues on the committee to introduce the Protecting Cyber Networks Act. The bill would encourage businesses and the federal government to share information on known cyber threats. Representatives said it was important to stop the threat of cyber criminals — sometimes supported by hostile governments — who have been increasing their attacks on U.S. networks and American businesses.

“A voluntary cyber information sharing bill will help us defend against this pernicious threat, and the time to act is now,” Schiff said.

The bill, which still requires a committee vote — likely today — before moving to the full House of Representatives, has received early bipartisan support.


“These attacks have been going on for years now and we are losing billions of dollars and thousands of jobs,” Schiff said. “We are victims, as you can see by the recent attack on Sony. This is really not just about tech companies. The victims of the hacking cross the spectrum, from the banking institutions, to the big healthcare firms that were recently hacked, and also Target, Home Depot and others.”


He added that it is important businesses and consumers feel comfortable sharing information with the federal government.


“It’s strictly voluntary and it is also important to point out that before [businesses] can share information, they are required to strip out all of people’s personal data,” Schiff said, noting there is no new surveillance authority allowed by the bill.


In the U.S. Senate, a group led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has introduced a similar bill called the Cyber Information Sharing Act. Should both bills proceed, they will eventually merge.


During a meeting on Friday with the Park Labrea News and Beverly Press, Schiff noted that it can be a challenge — one he gladly accepts — to represent such a diverse district that stretches from West Hollywood to La Cañada.

“It keeps my life interesting,” he said.


One local issue he is working to address is overhead helicopter noise. The congressman said that he and Feinstein have been jointly working on the issue.


“We’re pushing the [Federal Aviation Administration] to focus on quality of life issues [to abate the problem],” he said. “There tends to be a lot of finger pointing among helicopter operators: the tour companies, the media, law enforcement and paparazzi, about who is breaking the rules.”


Because of those efforts, the FAA this year has been working on the creation of a comprehensive complaint system for helicopter noise operations, where residents can communicate complaints in real-time by phone or online. The system is expected to be operational within the next few months. The FAA is also working to build a comprehensive helicopter noise database to better pinpoint the problems, officials said.


Schiff added that drone regulations would be an ongoing conversation in Washington.


With his position on the intelligence committee, Schiff said he has been keeping a close watch over the diplomacy efforts between the U.S. and Iran, along with the reelection of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been a vocal critic during the talks.


“Relations with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama are at the low end,” Schiff said. “Some hard work has to be done on both sides of the globe to [repair] the relationship.”


Schiff added that Congress would not hesitate to act regarding Iran.


“If the Iran deal falls apart, new sanctions will come flying out of Congress with my support,” he said. “We want Israel to stay with us on sanctions.”


In regards to budget talks in Congress, Schiff said he felt the fight wasn’t so necessarily Democrats versus Republicans this year, but rather “defense hawks” versus “deficit hawks” in the Republican Party.


The retirement announcement by longtime Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) has sparked speculation on whether Schiff will enter the race for the U.S. Senate. If he were to run for her seat, it would require him to walk away from the House.


“It’s something I’m looking at,” Schiff said. “I was named the top Democratic leader on the intelligence committee the same day Sen. Boxer announced her retirement. I would have to give that up. I’m giving myself a couple of months to talk to people and make my decision.”


Schiff is one of three well-known California members of the House of Representatives mul-ling an election run. Reps. Xavier Becerra of Los Angeles and Loretta Sanchez of Garden Grove are also weighing the prospect.


California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris has been considered the frontrunner for the seat since she announced her campaign in January.


-Karen Villalpando contributed to this story.

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Source: Park LaBrea News and Beverly Press