12.11.14

Congress Passes Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Cybersecurity; Most Significant Cyber Bill to Pass Congress in Over a Decade

Media Contact: Lauren Claffey; April Ward (202) 226-8477

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed S. 2519, the National Cybersecurity Protection Act of 2014, and a Senate amendment to H.R. 2952, the Cybersecurity Workforce Assessment Act – bipartisan legislation to strengthen our nation’s cyber defenses.

Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security: “The cyber bills passed this week are a historic moment in the fight against cyber-attacks. Every day Americans’ private information is lost in criminal data breaches like those at Target and Home Depot. Nation-state actors, such as Russia, China and Iran, are increasingly hacking into U.S. companies and government networks to conduct espionage or steal intellectual property. In fact, former Director of the NSA, General Keith Alexander described this loss of IP as  ‘the greatest transfer of wealth in history.’ However, the most malicious threat is from those who wish to do our country harm  by shutting down our power grid, energy or water systems.

“With the passage of these bipartisan and bicameral bills, we can protect our vital digital private and government networks from daily attacks from foreign enemies across the globe by encouraging and supporting federal and private sector threat sharing.  These bills are a significant step in the right direction, and my colleagues have shown that cybersecurity is a priority for this Congress. But there is more work to be done.”

Rep. Patrick Meehan, chairman of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies: “S. 2519 is the first significant cyber legislation in a decade and among the most important legislation that has been passed this Congress. Cyber-attacks against government agencies, corporations and consumers have grown exponentially over the past year, and losses from these breaches have reached into the billions of dollars. Cyber capabilities of our adversaries — both states and non-state actors — continue to grow and outpace our efforts to defend against them. This legislation is a major achievement to improve our nation’s cybersecurity defenses, improve coordination between government and private sector and protect the personal data of millions of American consumers. It also protects privacy rights: the ACLU has called it ‘pro-security and pro-privacy.’ I’m proud of this landmark legislation and I’m grateful to my colleagues for their support.

“Furthermore, the cyber threat from around the world must be met by talented professionals as much as technology. H.R. 2952, gives the Department of Homeland Security new tools to compete with private sector companies and recruit the talented and well-trained cyber warriors we need to protect us from cyber attack.”

You can watch Chairman McCaul speak on this topic HERE.

You can watch Subcommittee Chairman Meehan speak on this topic HERE.

BACKGROUND:

S. 2519 and H.R. 2952 passed the House by voice vote and will be sent to the president for his signature.

S. 2519 establishes the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), a federal civilian interface at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for the sharing of cyber threat information. It also facilitates cybersecurity across critical infrastructure sectors and ensures Americans’ civil liberties are protected. The bill is the negotiated, bipartisan compromise between the Senate and the House-passed H.R. 3696, the National Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection Act of 2014, which was introduced by Chairman McCaul, Subcommittee Chairman Meehan, Ranking Member Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), and Subcommittee Ranking Member Yvette Clarke (D-NY).

A summary of S. 2519 is available HERE.

H.R. 2952, as amended by the Senate, strengthens DHS’s cybersecurity workforce by requiring the Secretary of Homeland Security to assess the cybersecurity workforce of DHS and develop a strategy to enhance the department’s ability to protect our nation from cyber-attacks. The Senate amendment passed by the House today mirrors language in the House-passed H.R. 3696.

In addition, Congress passed two cybersecurity bills supported by McCaul and Meehan yesterday:

  • S. 1619, the Border Patrol Agent Pay Reform Act, allows DHS to recruit and hire qualified cyber professionals, while also reforming the overtime payment system for Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Border Patrol to save taxpayer dollars and better secure the border. This bill contains provisions similar to the House-passed H.R. 3696.
  • S. 2521, the Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014, bolsters the cybersecurity of federal networks by updating and clarifying the roles and responsibilities of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and DHS. This bill contains provisions similar to the House-passed H.R. 3696.

With the passage of these cyber bills this week, nearly all the provisions in H.R. 3696 were sent to the president to be signed into law.

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