Landmark cybersecurity legislative package clears House and Senate

DHS seal 112On December 11, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the final two pieces in a package of critical cybersecurity bills.  Taken together, these measures would for the first time codify the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) cybersecurity mission in law and provide long sought-after authority to utilize special hiring authority to improve its workforce to tackle the cybersecurity challenge. The legislation, listed below, are the product of thorough oversight and legislative action that originated in the House Committee on Homeland Security.  Each bill has previously passed in the Senate, and both are expected to be signed by the President.

Congressman Thompson released the following statement on the legislation:

“At the beginning of this Congress, expectations were high for some legislative action in the area of cybersecurity.  It has taken some time to get here but what we have before us is something solid that sets forth what DHS must do, as the lead civilian agency for cybersecurity.  With this cybersecurity legislation, simply put, we will raise the level of cybersecurity, particularly within the Federal government and protecting our nation’s critical infrastructure.”

“I also want to thank my principal partner in the House—Chairman McCaul—for his unwavering commitment to this issue and willingness to work across the aisle to get it done.  I also want to congratulate Congresswoman Clarke on getting her cyber workforce legislation in the final package.”

Congresswoman Clarke also released the following statement:

“For the Department of Homeland Security to be effective in its cybersecurity mission, it must have a workforce in place to meet this challenge. This bill includes language I included to help ensure that DHS has the ‘boots-on-the-ground’ it needs to meet its diverse cybersecurity mission by requiring it to develop and issue a comprehensive workforce strategy. I would like to thank Subcommittee Chairman Meehan for the support he has shown for my efforts and the spirit of collaboration that he has shown over the past two years.”

This week, as a result of intensive bipartisan, bicameral negotiations, a legislative package was advanced in the Senate and House that is comprised of key provisions of House-passed H.R. 3696, the National Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection Act, co-sponsored by Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (D-MS) and Ranking Member Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), which the House approved in late July.  This legislation also includes language from the House-passed Homeland Security Cybersecurity Boots-on-the-Ground Act (H.R. 3107) authored by Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), Ranking Member of the Committee’s Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies Subcommittee.

Legislation unanimously approved by the House today and yesterday to address DHS’ cyber workforce challenges:

  • H.R.2952, the Cyber Security Workforce Assessment Act
  • S.1691, the Border Patrol Agent Pay Reform Act

Legislation unanimously approved by the House today and yesterday to address DHS’ cybersecurity mission to protect the .gov domain and critical infrastructure networks:

  • S. 2519, the National Cybersecurity Protection Act
  • S. 2521, the Federal Information Security Modernization Act (FISMA)

Source: Committee on Homeland Security