CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Wednesday, October 28, 2015, the House will consider the Senate amendment to H.R. 623, the DHS Social Media Working Group Act of 2015, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 623 was introduced on January 30, 2015 by Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) and passed the House by a vote of 328 to 51 on February 2, 2015. The Senate passed the bill, with an amendment, by unanimous consent on October 7, 2015.
H.R. 623 codifies an existing Department of Homeland Security (DHS) working group established to enhance the dissemination of information through social media technologies between the Department and stakeholders and provide guidance and best practices on the use of social media before, during, and after a natural disaster, act of terrorism, or other manmade disaster.
The bill requires the working group to submit an annual report to Congress that details best practices and lessons learned during response efforts and provides recommendations on how to improve the use of social media by the Department. The working group terminates five years after the date of enactment unless the chairperson of the working group submits to Congress a certification that the continued existence of the group is necessary.
The Senate amendment revises the House-passed bill by changing its title, removing an exemption to the requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, establishing a five-year sunset and renewal process for the working group, and altering its membership and reporting requirements.
Click here for the previous Legislative Digest on the House-passed version of H.R. 623.
Studies have shown that “seventy-four percent of online adults utilize social media.” Many Americans have increasingly turned to social media to receive up-to-date information from the emergency management community before, during, and after natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other emergencies.
In 2010, DHS established the Virtual Social Media Working Group “to provide guidance to the emergency preparedness and response community on the effective use of social media.” Since then, the use of social media has expanded and evolved. H.R. 623 codifies the working group to ensure its effectiveness and increase its accountability.
 Senate Report 114-145 at 3.
 Id. at 3.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the new DHS responsibilities and the annual report required by H.R. 623 would cost less than $500,000 annually, assuming the availability of appropriated funds. Enacting the legislation would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
For questions or further information please contact Jerry White with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 5-0190.