House lawmakers propose major budget increase for key cyber agency

House lawmakers propose major budget increase for key cyber agency
© Greg Nash

The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday included almost $400 million more than last year for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) in its budget proposal for the upcoming year.

The committee proposed the increase following months of escalating cyberattacks, most notably the SolarWinds hack that compromised nine U.S. federal agencies and 100 private sector groups, and ransomware attacks on Colonial Pipeline and meat producer JBS USA.

The committee specifically proposed a budget of $2.42 billion for CISA in fiscal 2022, just shy of $400 million above CISA’s budget in 2021 and more than $288 million above what the agency requested earlier this year.

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These funds would go toward issues such as critical infrastructure security, emergency communications, risk management and other cybersecurity-related concerns.

The budget proposal for CISA was included in the overall proposed appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which also included funding for agencies such as U.S. Customs and Border Protection and for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. 

“As recent events like the Colonial Pipeline hack have demonstrated, it is obvious that we must do more to secure our nation’s cyber infrastructure,” Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauroRosa DeLauroAmerican workers need us to get this pandemic under control around the world Democrats press Biden to step up fight against domestic hunger A permanent Child Tax Credit expansion will yield dividends to taxpayers MORE (D-Conn.) said in a statement Tuesday. “That’s why this bill’s investments in preventing cyber attacks and rooting out cyber intrusions are so critical.”

Rep. Lucille Roybal-AllardLucille Roybal-AllardBiden backs effort to include immigration in budget package Biden to meet with 11 Democratic lawmakers on DACA: report Latina lawmakers discuss efforts to increase representation MORE (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, said in a separate statement that “as the nature of the threats facing the country changes, the missions and investments of the Department of Homeland Security must quickly adapt and respond.”

“This bill makes historic investments in cyber and infrastructure security,” she added. 

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The Biden administration requested $2.1 billion for CISA in fiscal 2022, a $110 million increase from the previous year, which would be on top of $650 million given to CISA to address cyber threats as part of the American Rescue Plan earlier this year. 

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have pushed for an additional $400 million in light of CISA’s key involvement in addressing the recent spree of cyberattacks.

Reps. Jim LangevinJames (Jim) R. LangevinBipartisan House group introduces legislation to set term limit for key cyber leader House panel approves B boost for defense budget Democratic lawmakers urge DHS to let Afghans stay in US MORE (D-R.I.) and Mike GallagherMichael (Mike) John GallagherBipartisan House group introduces legislation to set term limit for key cyber leader 20,000 Afghan evacuees housed at military bases in five states: report Absent Democrats give Republicans new opening on Afghanistan MORE (R-Wis.) sent a letter to leaders of the Appropriations Committee in April urging them to carve out the extra funding for CISA due to “far more” being required of the agency to protect the nation against cyber threats. 

House Homeland Security Committee ranking member John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoEmboldened Trump takes aim at GOP foes McCarthy-allied fundraising group helps Republicans who voted to impeach Trump Bipartisan House group introduces legislation to set term limit for key cyber leader MORE (R-N.Y.) in May also publicly pushed for CISA to receive $400 million more than the proposed budget, including $2.5 billion for CISA in his budget proposal. 

Langevin on Tuesday applauded the extra funds, saying in a statement that “the last several months have reminded Americans that our nation remains extremely vulnerable in cyberspace.”

“If we are going to stop the current wave of ransomware and prevent another Solarwinds-like hack, Congress must step up to the plate and adequately fund CISA,” Langevin said. “For months, I’ve been calling for Congress to allot more resources for CISA, and I’m so grateful to Chairwoman Roybal-Allard for her abiding commitment to shoring up our nation’s cyber defenses.”

“I look forward to partnering with CISA to defend and secure our critical infrastructure against those who seek to harm us,” he said. 

The DHS appropriations bill is set to be marked up by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security on Wednesday.