Senators introduce legislation to establish a Senate Select Committee on Cybersecurity

Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) introduced legislation to establish a Senate Select Committee on Cybersecurity that would have jurisdiction over cybersecurity and cyberspace issues, Gardner’s office announced on January 25. Currently, multiple Senate Committees have jurisdiction over cybersecurity. During the 114th Congress, at least 20 standing committees between the House of Representatives and the Senate held hearings related to cybersecurity.

The purpose of the narrowly-focused committee is to oversee and strengthen U.S. data breach prevention strategy and cyber activities. Among its responsibilities similar to a standing committee, the Select Committee on Cybersecurity would be authorized to investigate issues within its jurisdiction, make recommendations, and report legislation.

The committee would be composed of 21 members, including the chair and ranking members of the Appropriations Committee; Armed Services Committee; Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee; Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee; Foreign Relations Committee; Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee; Select Committee on Intelligence; and Judiciary Committee. Additionally, Senate leadership will appoint five members from the Senate at large.

“Cybersecurity policy is one of the most complex and significant challenges facing Congress, yet the Senate’s structure to investigate and address cyber issues is diffuse and inadequate. This has led to an uncoordinated policy response to recent cyber attacks on government agencies, businesses, and infrastructure,” said Senator Gardner. “The scope of the cyber threat is as varied as the actors who are responsible for them and the consequences of potential attacks. Therefore, as cyber risks threats evolve so must U.S. cybersecurity policy. The establishment of a Select Committee on Cybersecurity is essential to investigating emerging cyber risks and bolstering our defenses against them through legislative solutions, and I’m hopeful that my colleagues recognize that a centralized structure is the best path forward to effectively tackle the cyber challenge.”

“In the Internet age, Americans’ fundamental freedoms depend more than ever on robust cybersecurity, which is vital to ensure the free flow of information, the protection of intellectual property, the privacy of our citizens, and the sanctity of our democratic process,” said Senator Coons. “Russia’s direct attack on the U.S. election, the 2015 Chinese hack into the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), multiple intrusions into unclassified government networks, and efforts to compromise U.S. financial and industrial control systems all indicate that gaps exist in United States cyber defenses – and that Congress maintains a 20th century framework to respond quickly and effectively to these 21st century challenges. The consequences of such attacks will only grow in years to come. By establishing the permanent Senate Select Committee on Cybersecurity, this bill will give Congress the tools to comprehensively investigate and respond to cyber intrusions, take proactive steps to protect against and respond to future attacks, and hold the executive branch accountable for its actions. A challenge as complex as cybersecurity demands congressional responsibilities and authorities be as clear, direct, and nonpartisan as possible. This bill represents a significant step in that direction.”

The text of the bill can be found here.

Source: Senator Cory Gardner’s office