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Lawmakers roll out legislation to defend pipelines against cyber threats

Lawmakers roll out legislation to defend pipelines against cyber threats
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A bipartisan group of more than a dozen House lawmakers have reintroduced legislation to defend pipelines against cyberattacks, with the bill coming on the heels of the devastating ransomware attack that forced the shutdown of Colonial Pipeline.

The Pipeline Security Act would codify the responsibility of both the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) responsibility for securing pipelines against threats. The effort is being led by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.).

It would also require TSA to update pipeline security guidelines and conduct risk assessments, create a personnel strategy for staffing its Pipeline Security Section and improve congressional oversight of TSA’s pipeline efforts. 

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The legislation was previously introduced by Cleaver in 2019, but it failed to get a vote in the House. 

It is being rolled out again a week after the Colonial Pipeline, which provides 45 percent of the East Coast’s fuel supply, shut down operations to protect operational controls against a ransomware attack on its IT system, causing gas shortages in multiple states. 

The pipeline resumed operations earlier this week after Colonial paid the hackers — who President BidenJoe BidenEx-Biden adviser says Birx told him she hoped election turned out 'a certain way' Cheney rips Arizona election audit: 'It is an effort to subvert democracy' News leaders deal with the post-Trump era MORE said were based in Russia — the equivalent of almost $5 million to regain access to its networks. 

“It’s become clear that cyber-attacks on our critical infrastructure are national security and economic threats to the homeland,” Cleaver said in a statement Friday. “The recent ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline, which caused the shutdown of thousands of miles of gas pipeline along the East Coast, was just the latest example of why Congress must act swiftly to harden our critical infrastructure and bolster our cybersecurity capabilities.”

The bill is co-sponsored by multiple other lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, including House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonHillicon Valley: Biden gives TikTok and WeChat a reprieve | Colonial Pipeline CEO addresses Congress again | Thomson Reuters shareholders want review of ICE ties Colonial Pipeline may use recovered ransomware attack funds to boost cybersecurity Democrats debate shape of new Jan. 6 probe MORE (D-Miss.) and ranking member John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoColonial Pipeline may use recovered ransomware attack funds to boost cybersecurity In shot at Manchin, Pelosi calls for Senate to strengthen voting rights Democrats debate shape of new Jan. 6 probe MORE (R-N.Y.). 

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Thompson said in a statement Friday that the legislation would help ensure the federal response to cyber threats against pipelines is “rapid, clear, and consistent.”

“Both physical and cybersecurity threats to our infrastructure have the potential to harm our economy, undermine our national defense, and interrupt our daily lives,” Thompson said. “The attack on the Colonial Pipeline this week was just one example of what could go wrong and it’s clear we may not be as lucky in the future if we don’t adjust.”

Katko also underlined the importance of securing pipelines, noting in a separate statement that he would “continue working in a bipartisan manner” to protect critical infrastructure against future attacks. 

“The recent ransomware attack against Colonial Pipeline Company further highlights the threats facing our nation’s critical infrastructure and the potential cascading impacts cyber attacks can have on our economy,” Katko said. "With attacks of this nature on the rise, it’s more important than ever to strengthen our cyber resilience.”

Other sponsors of the bill are Reps. Bonnie Watson ColemanBonnie Watson ColemanPresident Biden can prevent over 4,000 people from being sent back to prison Lawmakers roll out legislation to defend pipelines against cyber threats Biden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package MORE (D-N.J.), Yvette ClarkeYvette Diane ClarkeSchool districts struggle to defend against rising ransomware attacks Hillicon Valley: Democrats urge Facebook to abandon 'Instagram for kids' plan | 'Homework gap' likely to persist after pandemic Legislation to secure critical systems against cyberattacks moves forward in the House MORE (D-N.Y.), Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeSimmering Democratic tensions show signs of boiling over Wray grilled on FBI's handling of Jan. 6 California comes to terms with the costs and consequences of slavery MORE (D-Texas), Jim LangevinJames (Jim) R. LangevinColonial Pipeline may use recovered ransomware attack funds to boost cybersecurity New Russian hacks spark calls for tougher Biden actions Biden budget includes 0M to help agencies recover from SolarWinds hack in proposed budget MORE (D-R.I.), Lou CorreaJose (Lou) Luis CorreaLawmakers roll out legislation to defend pipelines against cyber threats House moderates signal concerns with Pelosi drug pricing bill Moderate Democrats warn leaders against meddling in Iowa race MORE (D-Calif.), Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenLawmakers roll out legislation to defend pipelines against cyber threats Bipartisan lawmakers call for action on anti-hate crime measures House Democrat sits on Capitol steps to protest extremist threat MORE (D-Texas), Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellEx-DOJ official Rosenstein says he was not aware of subpoena targeting Democrats: report DOJ to probe Trump-era subpoenas of lawmaker records The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Sights and sounds from Biden's UK visit MORE (D-Calif.), Dina TitusAlice (Dina) Costandina TitusShakespeare gets a congressional hearing in this year's 'Will on the Hill' Lawmakers roll out legislation to defend pipelines against cyber threats House Democrats introduce bill to address diversity at State Department MORE (D-Nev.), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.), Elaine LuriaElaine Goodman LuriaOmar feuds with Jewish Democrats Virginia attorney general survives primary challenge McAuliffe looms large as Virginia Democrats pick governor nominee MORE (D-Va.), Richie Torres (D-N.Y.), and Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.).

The House Homeland Security Committee is intending to take action quickly on the bill, with the committee set to mark up this legislation and other cybersecurity-related measures next week. 

Other bills set to be discussed is the CISA Cyber Exercise Act, introduced by Rep. Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinDemocrats seize on GOP opposition to Jan. 6 commission Hillicon Valley: Democrats urge Facebook to abandon 'Instagram for kids' plan | 'Homework gap' likely to persist after pandemic Legislation to secure critical systems against cyberattacks moves forward in the House MORE (D-Mich.) earlier on Friday, and the State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act, introduced by a group of bipartisan sponsors earlier this week.