Senate passes bill to boost federal information security

On Monday night, the Senate passed a bill to update the 12-year-old federal information security laws. 

The measure, known as the Federal Information Security Modernization Act, would give the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) more of a role in overseeing federal information technology and federal agency data breaches. It would also authorize the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to help carry out policies set by the OMB.

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“This bill will modernize our outdated federal network security laws, provide the tools and authorities needed to improve security at our federal agencies, and increase transparency and accountability for data breaches at federal agencies,” said Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOvernight Energy: Democrats push EPA to collect 4K in 'excessive' Pruitt travel expenses | Greens angered over new rules for rocket fuel chemical | Inslee to join youth climate strikers in Las Vegas Democrats push EPA to collect 4K from Pruitt for 'excessive airfare expenses' Overnight Energy: Democrats ask if EPA chief misled on vehicle emissions | Dem senators want NBC debate focused on climate change | 2020 hopeful John Delaney unveils T climate plan MORE (D-Del.). 

The Senate had hotlined the measure last week, opening it up for quick passage if no senators objected. It will now move to the House. 

Lawmakers have disagreed over which agency — the OMB or the DHS — is best suited for an expanded information security role, holding the bill up in a jurisdictional fight

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) has been a staunch advocate for the DHS, but House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has pushed for the OMB to take the reins. 

Carper called on the House to “bring this critical bill across the finish line.” 

“Our nation’s cybersecurity is counting on it,” he added. 

Federal agencies ranging from the White House to the U.S. Postal Service have experienced data breaches in recent months.

“It is more than clear that the federal government needs to address this 21st century threat with a 21st century response,” Carper said.

— Updated 7:01 a.m.