White House sides with Congress over contentious cyber bill

The White House has endorsed a cyber bill that has divided members of the Biden administration and Senate lawmakers.

National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne told The Hill in a statement that “the administration supports final passage of Cyber Incident Reporting for Critical Infrastructure Act of 2022 and appreciates Congress’s bipartisan work to draft the legislation.”

The bill, which unanimously passed in the Senate on Tuesday as part of a wider cybersecurity legislation package, would require companies in critical sectors to report cyberattacks and ransomware to the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

“This legislation is a part of the administration’s comprehensive effort to modernize America’s cyber defenses and complements the President’s efforts to improve cybersecurity,” Horne added.

Senior Justice Department officials, however, criticized the bill for not requiring companies to jointly report to CISA and the FBI. 

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said in a statement first reported by Politico that the “bill as drafted leaves one of our best tools, the FBI, on the sidelines and makes us less safe at a time when we face unprecedented threats.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray also said in a statement to The Hill that while he applauds the intention of the legislation, the bill “has some serious flaws.”

A spokesperson for Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), the chair of the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee who sponsored the bill, said that what Monaco and Wray were suggesting is “completely false,” adding that the agencies had been consulted and that revisions were made to address some of their concerns. 

Horne also said that the administration is willing to work with all the relevant parties on this bill including Congress and federal agencies.

“The administration remains committed to working with the House, and exploring all options, to ensure that the legislation enables all relevant federal agencies to receive and process these incident reports as quickly as possible to carry out their cybersecurity missions,” she said. 

Tags Christopher Wray cybersecurity Gary Peters

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