House passes legislation to strengthen federal cybersecurity workforce


The House on Wednesday passed bipartisan legislation aimed at strengthening the federal cybersecurity workforce, an issue that has garnered support following a year of massive information security incidents. 

The Federal Rotational Cyber Workforce Program Act, sponsored by Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), would establish a program to allow cybersecurity professionals to rotate through multiple federal agencies and enhance their expertise. 

The bill would also encourage federal agency leaders to identify cybersecurity positions that can be rotated through government, and give the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) jurisdiction over the Federal Rotational Cyber Workforce Program. 

The bill was approved by the House by a vote of 410-15. 

“We have to make sure that our government is protected from increasing cyberattacks,” Khanna said Wednesday in a statement provided to The Hill. “That doesn’t just mean ensuring the Pentagon and the Department of Defense are well-equipped to tackle these threats. It means ensuring that we have a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity implemented across all of our federal agencies.”

“My bipartisan bill with Representative Mace will rotate current federal workers through different agencies to help develop a consistent cyber response and retain top professionals,” he said. 

Mace stressed in a separate statement issued Wednesday that “cyber security is national security.”

“We’ve all seen just how much damage can be done to our economy and infrastructure when we don’t take it seriously,” Mace said. “In fact, just last year 11 federal agencies were hacked by a group affiliated with Russia. Our cyber security challenges are dramatically increasing. I’d like to thank Rep. Ro Khanna for working with me to get this bill through the House, and I urge the Senate to send it to President Biden’s desk as soon as possible.”

The bill was previously approved by the Senate in 2019, but failed to get a vote in the House. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Gary Peters (D-Mich.), along with Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) reintroduced the bill in the Senate earlier this year, where it was passed as part of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act in June. 

The bill was reintroduced in both chambers of Congress amid escalating major cybersecurity incidents, including the SolarWinds hack that allowed Russian government-backed hackers to compromise numerous U.S. federal agencies, along with ransomware attacks on companies including Colonial Pipeline and meat producer JBS USA.

Tags cybersecurity workforce Gary Peters Jacky Rosen Joe Biden John Hoeven Nancy Mace Ro Khanna

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