House Leaders Announce Support For Cybersecurity Bill
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., and Senator Thomas Carper, D-Del., last week hailed the bipartisan support of prominent members of the House of Representatives for comprehensive cybersecurity legislation introduced last week by the three Senators.
In a hearing before the House Homeland Security Committee, Intelligence Subcommittee Chairwoman Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., said she intended to introduce the Senate bill in the House of Representatives this week, and the Committee's Ranking Member, Peter King, R-N.Y., said he would co-sponsor the legislation with her.
"This is welcome news that gives our legislation the bipartisan momentum it needs to pass Congress this year," Lieberman said. "After months of consultation with cybersecurity experts in the public and private sectors, we have drafted legislation that will unify and provide sustained leadership for the federal government's efforts to secure cyberspace against crippling attack. We must defend the Internet just as we defend ourselves against conventional attack, and I thank my colleagues in the House for joining with us in this effort."
Senator Collins said: "Bipartisan support in the House for this legislation represents a critical benchmark that will help speed this prudent proposal forward. As I noted yesterday at our Senate Homeland Security hearing, we cannot dither on what has become a significant national security issue. Every day, America's cyberspace is under increasing assault. We must act now to develop a proactive strategy for protection and response, ahead of a damaging attack to our federal civilian systems or our most critical infrastructure systems. I welcome the House support of our bill, which would strengthen the federal government's ability to safeguard America's cyber networks while also promoting a true public/private partnership to set national cyber security priorities."
Carper said: "I commend my colleagues Representatives Jane Harman (D-CA) and Peter King (R-NY) for supporting our Committee's efforts to secure cyberspace. After working on this issue for several years, I know that cyberspace is viewed by bad actors as the soft underbelly of our nation. In fact most - if not all - of our critical infrastructure is dependent upon the security and resiliency of America's information infrastructure. That's why it's so important that we work in a bipartisan manner to get a strong bill on the President's desk by the end of the year."
The Department of Homeland Security Inspector General also issued a report citing a lack of clear authority in cyber security as a problem. The Lieberman-Collins-Carper bill more than addresses this shortcoming by establishing a National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications with new authorities and responsibilities to direct federal efforts to secure the cyber networks of government and the private sector.
The Senate bill also would:
- Create a White House Office of Cyberspace Policy to lead all federal cyber security efforts. The office would be led by a Senate-confirmed director accountable to Congress and the public.
- Create a National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications (NCCC) within the Department of Homeland Security to defend the dot-gov networks and oversee the defenses of our most critical infrastructure.
- Set up a collaborative process between the government and the private sector to meet a baseline set of security requirements that DHS would enforce for the nation's most critical infrastructure.
- Require the federal government to develop and implement a strategy to ensure that almost $80 billion of the information technology products and services it purchases each year are secure and don't provide adversaries with a backdoor into our networks.
- Provide the President with clear authority to direct short-term emergency measures for a select group of critical infrastructure owners and operators in order to preserve their networks and protect the American people in the event of a catastrophic cyber attack that could seriously jeopardize public safety or have disastrous effects on our economy or national security.
- Reform the way federal cyber security personnel are recruited, hired, and trained to ensure that the government has the talent.