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Congress passes bipartisan cybersecurity legislation

The House of Representatives Thursday unanimously passed S. 2519, the National Cybersecurity Protection Act of 2014, and a Senate amendment to H.R. 2952, the Cybersecurity Workforce Assessment Act, both aimed at strengthening American cyber defenses.

S. 2519 establishes the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, a federal civilian interface at DHS for sharing cyber threat information. It also facilitates cybersecurity across critical infrastructure sectors and aims to protect Americans’ civil liberties. 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 House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Subcommittee Chairman Patrick Meehan (R-PA), Ranking Member Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), and Subcommittee Ranking Member Yvette Clarke (D-NY).

“S. 2519 is the first significant cyber legislation in a decade and among the most important legislation that has been passed this Congress,” said Subcommittee Chairman Meehan. “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.”

H.R. 2952, as amended by the Senate, aims to strengthen 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 America from cyber-attacks. 

“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,” said Subcommittee Chairman Meehan. S. 2519 and H.R. 2952 passed the House by voice vote and will be sent to the president for his signature.

Congress also passed two cybersecurity bills supported by McCaul and Meehan Wednesday:

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 Border Patrol to save taxpayer dollars and better secure the border, the Homeland Security Committee said in a statement.

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 and DHS.

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, according to the Homeland Security Committee.

 

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