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 RatcliffeGrand jury material becomes key battle-line in Mueller report fight Dems escalate Mueller demands with subpoena Congress should take action to stop unfair taxation of the digital economy MORE (R-Texas) introduced an amendment to make technical changes to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyWatchdog: Custodial staff alleged sexual harassment in lawmakers' offices John Legend, Chrissy Teigen lash out at Trump at Dem retreat Republicans call for ex-Trump lawyer Cohen to be referred to DOJ MORE’s (R-Calif.) bill, which would create a cyber vulnerability policy at DHS.


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) HassanOvernight Health Care: CEO of largest private health insurer slams 'Medicare for All' plans | Dem bill targets youth tobacco use | CVS fined over fake painkiller prescriptions | Trump, first lady to discuss opioid crisis at summit GOP senators divided on Trump trade pushback Former Democratic aide pleads guilty to doxing GOP senators attending 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 McCaulLawmakers join musical stars to celebrate Grammys on the Hill DCCC opens Texas office to protect House pickups, target vulnerable GOP seats GOP, Dems balk at latest Trump foreign aid cuts 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: 'No problem' with Mueller testifying The Hill's Morning Report — Category 5 Mueller storm to hit today GOP senators double down on demand for Clinton email probe documents 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.”