House budget silent on cybersecurity

Cybersecurity received no mention in the House Republican budget released Tuesday, a stark contrast with President Obama’s spending proposal, which increased funding for cyber defenses by $14 billion.

The House GOP seeks to balance the budget in nine years and cut $5.5 trillion in projected government spending over the next decade. It would also provide an additional $90 billion in war funding while keeping the 2011 spending limits in place.


Some of the $90 billion could be used for cybersecurity activities, though it is technically earmarked for the overseas contingency operations (OCO) fund, an account that has been used to finance the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Defense hawks appear split about whether OCO funds should support activities normally paid for by the main Department of Defense budget. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainWill the real Lee Hamiltons and Olympia Snowes please stand up? Republicans have dumped Reagan for Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting MORE (R-Ariz.) has characterized the use of the OCO fund as a gimmick, while his House counterpart, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), signaled a measure of support for the move on Monday.

Since Republicans gained control of the House in 2010, the annual budget proposal has provided a chance to study the GOP’s fiscal priorities.

The omission of cybersecurity as a budget item is somewhat surprising given the amount of national attention paid to threats from Russian and Chinese hackers against government agencies. Federal entities and critical infrastructure are under constant siege online, a situation illustrated by the presence of hackers inside the State Department’s email network months after a breach was first discovered.

A request for comment from the House Budget Committee was not immediately returned.

The Obama administration made an effort to highlight cybersecurity as a significant issue in its most recent budget. Released in early February, the proposal includes $5.5 billion in cybersecurity funding for the Pentagon alone.

The White House also called for funds for a series of specific cyber programs, including efforts to monitor federal computer networks for intruders and teach government employees how to respond to cyberattacks.

— Rebecca Shabad contributed.