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House panel advances DHS cyber vulnerabilities bills

House panel advances DHS cyber vulnerabilities bills
© Greg Nash

The House Homeland Security Committee on Thursday advanced a pair of bills addressing cyber vulnerabilities at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Only minor amendments were offered for both bills, which were passed during what is expected to be the committee’s final markup of the legislative session.

Rep. John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeHouse Judiciary chairman threatens to subpoena Rosenstein Senate passes key cyber bill cementing cybersecurity agency at DHS Hillicon Valley: Trump stuns with election interference claim against China | FCC limits fees for 5G | Uber reaches 8M settlement over breach | Fox sells Sky stake to Comcast | House passes bills to fix cyber vulnerabilities MORE (R-Texas) introduced an amendment to make technical changes to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyDemocrats in swing districts advised to avoid talking about immigration The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Trump travels to hurricane-ravaged Florida, Georgia McCarthy brother-in-law under scrutiny for earning federal contracts based on Native American identity claim MORE’s (R-Calif.) bill, which would create a cyber vulnerability policy at DHS.

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Ratcliffe said his amendment will ensure that the policy clearly lays out how DHS communicates with security researchers about how to mitigate or solve identified vulnerabilities.

Rep. James Langevin (D-R.I.) praised McCarthy's bill, saying that it will open the door to creating a stronger relationship between the agency and well-intentioned hackers who can help identify vulnerabilities.

The committee also advanced a bill introduced by Sen. Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanElection Countdown: O'Rourke brings in massive M haul | Deal on judges lets senators return to the trail | Hurricane puts Florida candidates in the spotlight | Adelson spending big to save GOP in midterms Former Dem aide makes first court appearance on charges of posting GOP senators' info online Ex-House intern charged with 'doxing' GOP senators during Kavanaugh hearing MORE (D-N.H.) to create a “bug bounty” program at DHS, known as the Hack the Department of Homeland Security Act.

Langevin also supported this legislation, saying he has seen a similar program succeed for the Department of Defense, but he issued a warning about the amount of work that would have to go into fixing identified bugs. He questioned whether the department has the resources to run a successful bounty program.

"A bug bounty will attract thousands and thousands of eyes and you have to be prepared for that," Langevin said. "All of which is to say, I still do have questions about the department’s ability to implement a successful bug bounty program."

He also introduced an amendment to the bill that clarifies that security researchers could offer their assistance to DHS for the program without receiving compensation.

Committee Chairman Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulSenate passes key cyber bill cementing cybersecurity agency at DHS Hillicon Valley: Trump stuns with election interference claim against China | FCC limits fees for 5G | Uber reaches 8M settlement over breach | Fox sells Sky stake to Comcast | House passes bills to fix cyber vulnerabilities Sessions calls on former colleagues to send drone legislation to Trump's desk MORE (R-Texas) ended the hearing by noting that while the House has passed more than 100 pieces of legislation that originated with the committee over the past session, the Senate has failed to address many of the bills.

He said he spoke with Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGOP senator seeking information on FBI dealings with Bruce Ohr, former DOJ lawyer Election Countdown: O'Rourke brings in massive M haul | Deal on judges lets senators return to the trail | Hurricane puts Florida candidates in the spotlight | Adelson spending big to save GOP in midterms Senate Homeland chair vents Mueller probe is preventing panel from receiving oversight answers MORE (R-Wis.), the chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, on Wednesday about prioritizing some of those pieces of legislation.

“I really wish the Senate would act,” McCaul said, adding that “99 percent” of the bills were “unanimous, bipartisan good governance bills.”