The House Committee on Homeland Security passed three cybersecurity bills with broad bipartisan support on Monday.
The Critical Infrastructure Research and Development Advancement Act of 2013 amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002. The bill directs the Department of Homeland Security to develop a strategy for developing technology to be used in protecting critical infrastructure from cyber-attack.
DHS would also have to submit new reports to Congress every two years updating legislators on its progress. It passed with a voice vote.
The second bill, the National Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection Act would strengthen the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, a real-time cyber-threat information-sharing platform across critical infrastructure sectors and the federal government. It also passed with a voice vote.
“The reality is the threat is outpacing our readiness to combat it,” said Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas), the chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security. “This bipartisan bill establishes a true partnership between DHS and the private sector to ensure the distribution of real-time cyber threat information in order to secure our nation in cyberspace without burdensome mandates or regulations,” he said.
“We identified a problem — barriers that prevented the department from acquiring the best equipment available to protect the homeland — and we worked together to solve it,” said Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Penn), the chairman of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies.
The Homeland Security Cybersecurity Boots-on-the-Ground Act passed by a vote of 395-8. The boots-on-the-ground bill would require the Department of Homeland Security secretary to establish cybersecurity occupation classifications, assess the cybersecurity workforce, and develop a strategy to address gaps in the workforce, among other things. The success “depends on how well it [DHS] recruits, hires, and trains its cyber workforce,” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss) said.
“The House will have taken meaningful action to move the ball forward on improving our Nation’s cybersecurity posture,” Thompson said.
There has been some movement on cybersecurity bills in Congress recently. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2014 on July 8. The bill is now waiting for the full Senate vote.