Key Republican says cyber bill has 80 percent chance of passage

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) says his cyber information sharing bill has an 80 percent chance of becoming law during Congress’s lame-duck session.

“It might be the one bill that passes this Congress and gets signed into law,” he said Tuesday at a Bloomberg Government event.

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McCaul’s bill, which would allow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and private sector to share cyber threat information, has the administration’s backing and passed the House in July. At a Monday briefing, McCaul was told Senate discussions on the bill were going well.

“It is so important to our national security on so many levels,” he said. “Eighty to 85 percent of the threat information is in the private sector.”

McCaul’s high hopes for the bill don’t necessarily bode well for more controversial legislation approved by the House in April.

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) would facilitate cyber threat information sharing between the private sector and the National Security Agency (NSA). 

Privacy advocates have backed McCaul’s bill, but urged the White House to veto CISPA if it passes the Senate.

“I don’t know what the fate of CISPA’s going to be,” McCaul said. “DHS is not a military organization like NSA, it is a civilian entity.” That difference made it easier to “garner so much support not only from industry, but from privacy groups” for his bill.

McCaul also praised DHS for a significant turnaround in the last year, particularly on cyber. 

Jeh Johnson replaced Janet Napolitano as DHS secretary in December 2013. 

He worked “in very short order” to fill agency vacancies and heighten attention to cybersecurity, McCaul said.

“I think if anything, morale has improved under his leadership. I give him high marks I would not have given his predecessor,” he said.