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 BidenCDC working to tighten testing requirement for international travelers On The Money — Powell pivots as inflation rises Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Manchin seeks 'adjustments' to spending plan 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 ThompsonJan. 6 panel releases contempt report on Trump DOJ official ahead of censure vote Meadows reaches initial cooperation deal with Jan. 6 committee The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - The omicron threat and Biden's plan to beat it MORE (D-Miss.) and ranking member John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoSunday shows preview: New COVID-19 variant emerges; supply chain issues and inflation persist Lawmakers increasingly anxious about US efforts against Russian hackers GOP senators appalled by 'ridiculous' House infighting MORE (R-N.Y.). 

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 ColemanLawmakers split on next steps to secure transportation sectors against hackers House progressives call on Biden to end all new fossil fuel permitting Lawmakers call for more resources to support early cancer detection MORE (D-N.J.), Yvette ClarkeYvette Diane ClarkeSenators look to defense bill to move cybersecurity measures State and local officials celebrate passage of infrastructure bill with billion in cyber funds The developed world should help countries on the frontlines of the climate crisis MORE (D-N.Y.), Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeDetroit voters back committee to study reparations Biden's policies have been disastrous to the US security, the economy Best shot at narrowing racial homeownership gap at risk, progressives say MORE (D-Texas), Jim LangevinJames (Jim) R. LangevinFederal agencies ordered to patch hundreds of vulnerabilities Lawmakers praise upcoming establishment of cyber bureau at State Federal first responders deserve the retirement we promised them MORE (D-R.I.), Lou CorreaJose (Lou) Luis Correa91 House Dems call on Senate to expand immigration protections in Biden spending bill Historic immigration reform included in House-passed spending bill Immigrant advocates release 'Pathway to Citizenship in Five Steps' MORE (D-Calif.), Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenIlhan Omar to Biden: 'Deliver on your promise to cancel student debt' Deportations of Haitians spark concerns over environmental refugees The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Gears begin to shift in Congress on stalled Biden agenda MORE (D-Texas), Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to update Americans on omicron; Congress back GOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips Omar calls out Boebert over anti-Muslim remarks, denies Capitol incident took place MORE (D-Calif.), Dina TitusAlice (Dina) Costandina TitusNevada lawmakers approve maps giving edge to Democrats Democrats call for State to lift ban on embassies discussing same-sex marriage Harris to highlight drought, climate change in Nevada trip MORE (D-Nev.), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.), Elaine LuriaElaine Goodman LuriaAbortion rights group endorsing 12 House Democrats Group aligned with House GOP leadership targeting nine Democrats on spending vote The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Rising prices undercut Biden agenda 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 SlotkinThree dead, six wounded in Michigan school shooting Taiwan says it is capable of responding to repeated Chinese military missions Five House members meet with Taiwanese president despite Chinese objections MORE (D-Mich.) earlier on Friday, and the State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act, introduced by a group of bipartisan sponsors earlier this week.