House passes legislation to strengthen federal cybersecurity workforce

House passes legislation to strengthen federal cybersecurity workforce
© iStockphoto

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 KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaKhanna advocates for 'honest and reflective patriotism' in America Democrats call on Education secretary to address 'stealthing' at federal level Showdown: Pelosi dares liberals to sink infrastructure bill MORE (D-Calif.) and Nancy MaceNancy MaceUS lawmakers arrive in Taiwan to meet with local officials US lawmakers visiting Taiwan for meetings with defense ministry: report Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Pledged money not going to Indigenous causes MORE (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. 

ADVERTISEMENT

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 BidenJoe BidenGOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips Five House members meet with Taiwanese president despite Chinese objections Sunday shows preview: New COVID-19 variant emerges; supply chain issues and inflation persist MORE'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 PetersGary PetersOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — US mulls Afghan evacuees' future Senators look to defense bill to move cybersecurity measures Midterm gloom grows for Democrats MORE (D-Mich.), along with Sens. Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenSenators call for Smithsonian Latino, women's museums to be built on National Mall America's clean energy future cannot stop at state lines Hillicon Valley — Immigrants being put in surveillance programs MORE (D-Nev.) and John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenEquilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Native solar startups see business as activism Religious institutions say infrastructure funds will help model sustainability House passes legislation to strengthen federal cybersecurity workforce MORE (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.