Congress

Cyber to hitch a ride on must-pass spending bill

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A landmark cybersecurity bill covering information sharing between government and the private sector is going to be included in the omnibus appropriations bill to fund the government through the end of fiscal year 2016.

Congress is expected to vote first on a stopgap continuing resolution to keep the government funded through Dec. 22, before turning to the omnibus. The current funding measure keeping the federal government open expires on Dec. 16.

Backers of cybersecurity legislation Capitol Hill had been hopeful that the information-sharing bill will hitch a ride on the must-pass $1.1 trillion spending bill for fiscal 2016.

"I do know that all the issues have been worked out," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told FCW.

The reconciled House and Senate bills appear as the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, a section of the 2009-page funding bill.

Early signals indicate that privacy advocates are going to fight the measure. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) tweeted a copy of a letter to House colleagues announcing his opposition to the inclusion of the cyber bill late on Dec. 15. The letter was co-signed by Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas), Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.)."Neither negotiations -- nor even bill text -- have been made public. We cannot cast such a consequential vote with no input," the lawmakers wrote.

Both House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said earlier in the week that they would support cybersecurity legislation being included in the omnibus bill if that was the best way to get it to the president's desk for signature.

"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 told reporters on Dec. 8, when differences between the two bills were still being resolved.

FCW staff writer Sean Lyngaas contributed reporting to this article.

This article was updated Dec. 16, 2015.

About the Author

Aisha Chowdhry is a former staff writer for FCW.


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