House panel approves $1.8 billion for DHS cyber spending

House panel approves $1.8 billion for DHS cyber spending

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security on Thursday approved a spending bill providing $1.8 billion to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to guard against cyberattacks and protect critical infrastructure.

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The funds — $120.5 million above 2016 spending, according to the committee — would go to the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), the wing of the DHS responsible for cybersecurity.

“Hacking and cyberattacks have already cost the federal government billions of taxpayer dollars, and have exposed the personal information of thousands of Americans,” the committee said in its summary.

The lion’s share of the funds would go toward securing civilian government networks — .gov sites — as well as detecting and preventing foreign espionage and modernizing emergency communications.

The bill also provides funding to help Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Secret Service combat cybercrime.

It was approved on a unanimous voice vote.

The spending bill comes amid a fight over reorganizing the NPPD.

The DHS has proposed creating a new agency with three operational units: an office of infrastructure protection, an “elevated and enhanced” cybersecurity office and the existing Federal Protective Service, which protects federal buildings.

But the proposal has met with some pushback from Congress.

While the DHS wants to integrate responsibility for cyber and physical security across the agency, a House Homeland Security Committee bill would keep the cyber division separate from the agency’s mission to guard against physical threats.

The Homeland Security committee advanced that bill on Wednesday.