Congress

Cyber legislation could hitch a ride on funding bill

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said cybersecurity legislation could make its way into the omnibus appropriations bill this year.

However, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said, "I prefer we go through the normal regular process" and move the bill as a "separate vehicle."

On Dec. 8, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) told reporters that it was possible cybersecurity legislation would be added to the omnibus bill.

"I don't ever rule any vehicle out because I hate to pass on a vehicle that I know is going to find its way to the president," Burr said.

Still, there are differences that must be resolved between the House and Senate cybersecurity bills. Both chambers want some liability and antitrust protection for companies that share information on cyberthreats with the government. However, the House bill limits direct access to shared information to the Department of Homeland Security while the Senate bill permits some direct access by intelligence agencies, including the National Security Agency.

Burr said those differences are being worked out. But at a Dec. 9 breakfast meeting with reporters hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, McCaul said the language related to the DHS information-sharing portal seems to be a topic of disagreement.

He said technology companies would prefer that intelligence agencies not be included in the portal "because...that will kill the business overseas."

Burr told FCW on Dec. 8 that "we worked out problems with the administration and [DHS] before we ever moved on the bill in the Senate."

In November, before the differences between the bills were being hashed out, McCaul said he expected and hoped that "privacy groups are going to weigh in very heavily in this conference committee."

This week, he said, "If this is not done right and the privacy groups are not satisfied or the technology companies are not satisfied, we will lose votes on the omnibus." He added that the Senate and House are close to reaching agreement on a bill that privacy advocates "will appreciate."

About the Author

Aisha Chowdhry is a former staff writer for FCW.


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