Cybersecurity

Week ahead: House panels to mark up cyber bills

Lawmakers will have plenty of cyber business on their agenda when they return to Washington next week.

Committees in the House will continue to finalize cybersecurity legislation in preparation for floor votes between April 21 and 23, a priority for Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

The Homeland Security panel is expected to release its threat-sharing bill on Monday and hold a markup on Tuesday.

{mosads}That bill would encourage private companies to pass information about hacking attempts to the Department of Homeland Security in exchange for liability protection.

The approval of a similar bill March 26 by the House Intelligence Committee underscores leaders’ interest in passing an information-sharing measure this year. 

It is unclear whether or how the two bills would be combined before floor votes.

Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) has said “it’d be nice” to take the “best of both bills,” though this approach is potentially concerning to privacy advocates, who favor the Homeland Security Committee’s version.

Meanwhile, in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, lawmakers vote Wednesday on a measure to create a national data security and breach notification standard.

The bill from Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) was approved March 25 by voice vote in the trade subcommittee.

It would require companies to maintain reasonable security practices and inform customers within a certain time frame if their data might have been stolen during a breach.

The bill is controversial to some Democrats, who argue that it would do away with stronger consumer protections at the state level. Opening statements in the markup will take place on Tuesday.

The Senate is also trying to get its own cyber information-sharing effort to the floor soon.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has already approved a bill that is in many ways a combination of the two House info-sharing bills.

With Congress back next week, expect to hear more from two of the bill’s potential opponents — Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). Both senators expressed reservations about a discussion draft of the Intel panel’s bill.

Carper told The Hill just before recess that he was pleased to see the committee had adopted a number of his privacy-strengthening recommendations during markup. But some lingering concerns remained, he added.

Carper, the top Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced his own info-sharing bill in February.

Leahy has yet to weigh in on the Senate’s bill since it passed out of committee. Civil liberties advocates, including Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), have argued the measure will shuttle more data to the National Security Agency (NSA).

Leahy, the Judiciary Committee’s ranking member, is a vocal opponent of NSA surveillance, and is leery of any bill that might further empower the agency.

“I’ve made it very clear,” he told The Hill in March. “If my concerns are not answered, then I’m going to have to vote against it.”

 

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Tags Marsha Blackburn Patrick Leahy Peter Welch Ron Wyden Tom Carper
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