Rep. Walden promises 'aggressive' review of cyber threats

Several committees in the House are moving forward with cybersecurity legislation in hopes of bringing a bill to the floor before the election. Leaders in both chambers have largely struck a bipartisan tone on cybersecurity, framing it as a national security matter.

But cracks have started to emerge in the consensus, with industry and GOP lawmakers expressing resistance to a compromise forged between the Senate Commerce and Homeland Security committees. That legislation would impose regulatory requirements on companies that are deemed critical infrastructure.

Bob Dix, the vice president of government affairs and critical infrastructure for Juniper Networks, is one of the witnesses for Wednesday’s hearing. He recently told The Hill that the cybersecurity compromise would give the government too much power over contractors who fail to meet security standards.

The bill’s sponsors and cybersecurity experts dispute Dix’s arguments, but resistance to the legislation is growing among federal contractors.

The House Republican cybersecurity proposals have focused on providing incentives for industry to share information with the government on threats and attacks. How lawmakers react to concerns from Dix on Wednesday will indicate whether new regulations will be deemed necessary for telecom providers.

The lead Republicans on cybersecurity, Reps. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), have been receptive to some new rules in tightly regulated sectors like water treatment and nuclear power. But the Telecom subpanel will likely have a strong voice on how regulations affect the communications sector.

Walden outlined his subpanel's agenda for the year in a recent briefing with reporters. He focused on the need for Congress to authorize spectrum auctions and move forward with his two bills to overhaul how the Federal Communications Commission does business. 

— This story was updated at 2:50 p.m.