House passes cyber crime bill

House passes cyber crime bill
© Greg Nash

House lawmakers have passed a bill aimed at helping state and local law enforcement officials combat cyber crime.

The bill, introduced by Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), passed the House on Tuesday evening with broad bipartisan support in a 408-3 vote. 

It would authorize into law the National Computer Forensics Institute, a federally-funded center in Hoover, Ala., that trains local officials across the country to investigate electronic crimes. 

The legislation passed the House last year but never advanced to the Senate floor for a vote. Companion legislation has already been offered in the Senate by Sens. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump’s walk-back fails to stem outrage on Putin meeting Senate GOP poised to break record on Trump's court picks This week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation MORE (R-Iowa) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenate GOP breaks record on confirming Trump picks for key court Deal to fix family separations hits snag in the Senate Election Countdown: Senate, House Dems build cash advantage | 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser | Trump has M in war chest | Republican blasts parents for donating to rival | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders to campaign in Kansas MORE (D-Calif.), the leaders of the Judiciary Committee. 

“The bicameral, bipartisan support on this issue underscores its critical importance ... and the need for this issue to transcend political parties and partisan politics,” Ratcliffe said on the House floor Tuesday afternoon.

The Texas lawmaker said the bill would “give our officers a leg up on the criminals who are increasingly using digital means in cyber space to evade justice.”

Other lawmakers signaled support for the bill on Tuesday, citing the global “Wanna Cry” ransomware attack that has spread to 150 countries since Friday. 

“We’re currently witnessing an unprecedented global cyberattack. Attacks such as this threaten our economy, our national security,” said Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.), whose district is home to the training center.

“This highlights the need for law enforcement to be trained at local, state and national levels to recognize and combat this activity,” Palmer said.

The National Computer Forensics Institute is estimated to have trained more than 6,000 local officials from all 50 states. 

Ratcliffe chairs a congressional subcommittee with oversight of the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity and infrastructure protection efforts and has been a key voice on cyber issues in the House.

He reintroduced the bill in March. 

The bill is one of two cyber-focused pieces of legislation that House lawmakers will consider this week, the other being a measure that would incentivize federal agencies to modernize their information technology.