Industry presses for tech funding in COVID relief amid Senate opposition

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Several industry groups sent a letter to lawmakers last week urging them to include $10 billion for cybersecurity in the next coronavirus relief bill, however congressional backers of a tech push in the relief bill say that Senate opposition makes a big push unlikely to pass.

A Feb. 12 letter from the Cybersecurity Coalition, Better Identity Coalition, Alliance for Digital Innovation and Computing Technology Industry Association re-iterated the $10 billion funding request included in President Joe Biden's proposal, the lion's share of which would go to the Technology Modernization Fund. TMF is a revolving fund supporting IT modernization projects that was founded with $100 million and subsequently received about $25 million per year in annual appropriations.

"As we have seen in the recent SolarWinds compromise of both federal government and critical infrastructure companies, the need to invest in our nation's ability to protect against, detect, respond to, and recover from these attacks is critical," according to the letter.

The letter also cites a need for cybersecurity funding at the local and state levels, pointing to ransomware attacks in Baltimore in recent years.

Biden's proposed COVID-19 relief bill would have appropriated $9 billion for TMF, $690 million for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, $300 million for the General Services Administration to respond to IT issues related to COVID and $200 million for IT oversight and reform.

However, Rep. Gerry Connolly introduced and withdrew an amendment that would have appropriated the $9 billion for the TMF. He cited opposition in the Senate as his reason for not pursuing the funding further, FCW reported.

"What we have to understand -- and what our colleagues in the Senate need to learn -- is that IT is not tangential to the mission. It is integral to the mission," Connolly said. "If the IT doesn't work, the mission is compromised."

Natalie Alms contributed reporting to this story.

About the Author

Justin Katz covers cybersecurity for FCW. Previously he covered the Navy and Marine Corps for Inside Defense, focusing on weapons, vehicle acquisition and congressional oversight of the Pentagon. Prior to reporting for Inside Defense, Katz covered community news in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. areas. Connect with him on Twitter at @JustinSKatz.


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