Overnight Cybersecurity: IT modernization bill clears panel | McCain seeks new path on Russian sanctions | House Republican aims to boost feds' cyber workforce

Welcome to OVERNIGHT CYBERSECURITY, your daily rundown of the biggest news in the world of hacking and data privacy. We're here to connect the dots as leaders in government, policy and industry try to counter the rise in cyber threats. What lies ahead for Congress, the administration and the latest company under siege? Whether you're a consumer, a techie or a D.C. lifer, we're here to give you ...

 

THE BIG STORY:

--MGT ACT A MGMT PRIORITY: Lawmakers are working quickly on legislation intended to accelerate the federal government's transition to modern, more secure information technology systems. A key House panel advanced a bipartisan bill Tuesday that creates two streams of agency funding to incentivize the transition to new technology that is more secure and cheaper to maintain. The latest bill carries White House approval and is aligned with the Trump administration's efforts to make headway on IT modernization. Similar to the last bill in most ways, but stingier on one key aspect of funding, the latest effort is also headed by Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and a bipartisan cohort. The House Oversight Committee's unanimous approval of the measure came just days after a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers introduced the new version of the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act. That legislative effort passed the House last session before bumping into Senate concerns about its cost. The bill now moves to the House, where Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has promised to bring it up for a floor vote soon.

ADVERTISEMENT

To read the rest of our piece, click here.

--...MAY GET TO SENATE FLOOR THIS MONTH: At a meeting with reporters at the Adobe Government Symposium, Hurd said he thought the bill might see the House floor as soon as when Congress returned from the next break. He said that he anticipated less friction with the Senate, which never voted on last year's version of the MGT Act, likely due to an unfavorable Congressional Budget Office score that was never sorted out. CBO, said Hurd, incorrectly assumed a $3 billion total appropriation spread over many years meant $3 billion a year. The new bill drops the appropriation to $250 million a year for the next two. "GAO had a conversation with CBO," he said.

--...FILE UNDER MISCELLANEOUS: "I was excited to have [MGT numbered] HR 227. When I was growing up, there was a show called '227' that was a spin-off of 'The Jeffersons,' " said Hurd. "227" followed the life of Florence Johnson from "The Jeffersons" and other residents of her D.C. apartment building. Of the corresponding Senate bill, he added. "990 is a good number too."

--...NEXT PRIORITIES: Hurd said he'd next turn focus to cybersecurity workforce issues. In the next five years, there is an anticipated shortage of workers totaling 2 million that may hit government harder than a better paying private sector. He outlined two coming initiatives: a cyber national guard - a service program to rotate in trained workers for one and two week shifts - and a standardization of job descriptions. There were 10,000 open information security jobs at the beginning of 2017, but titles didn't match between different agencies. There is no "heat map" of skills the government needs to train workers for, and no easy roadmap for a would-be government employee to amass a standard set of credentials that would work at any similar position.

 

A POLICY UPDATE:

RUSSIAN SANCTIONS FINISHED? NYET, SAY MCCAIN AND GRAHAM! Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainBiden's year two won't be about bipartisanship  Biden: A good coach knows when to change up the team These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 MORE (R-Ariz.) said Tuesday that lawmakers are exploring how to move Russia sanctions legislation forward after a key Republican-backed holding off on new financial penalties against Moscow.

"We will be looking at other options including the Senate Armed Services Committee," McCain, who chairs that committee, told reporters.

Asked if he was looking at trying to move Russia sanctions legislation through the Banking Committee, the Arizona Republican demurred but added that he, Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenators huddle on Russia sanctions as tensions escalate Juan Williams: It's Trump vs. McConnell for the GOP's future Biden's year two won't be about bipartisanship  MORE (R-S.C.) and "others will be looking hard at other options."

McCain's comments come as Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerRepublicans, ideology, and demise of the state and local tax deduction Cheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP How leaving Afghanistan cancels our post-9/11 use of force MORE (R-Tenn.) signaled this week that the Foreign Relations Committee will hold off on taking up new Russia sanctions legislation.

Corker, who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters on Tuesday that he wanted to give the administration time to determine the "trajectory" of U.S.-Russia relations, which he said are at an "all-time low."

"We can take it to a lower level by adding sanctions. That you know might make us feel good, but that's not an outcome that I think is good for our country," he told reporters.

A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation earlier this year that would slap new financial penalties on Russia over its meddling in the presidential election and ongoing conflicts in Russia and Syria.

Corker noted that the Banking Committee had previously considered sanctions bill.

"Many times those types of bills go through the Banking Committee ... and [they] may well do that," he said.

Graham also introduced legislation earlier this year that would require congressional oversight before Trump could lift Russia sanctions.

To read the rest of our piece, click here.

 

A LIGHTER CLICK: 

THIS ONE'S FOR REP. HURD: The intro to "227."

 

AN ELECTION IN FOCUS:

CLINTON WRITING BOOK ABOUT ELECTION HACKS, STUMBLES: Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Armageddon elections to come Poll: Trump leads 2024 Republican field with DeSantis in distant second The politics of 'mind control' MORE blamed her election loss on FBI Director James Comey and WikiLeaks' publication of Democratic emails in a rare public appearance Tuesday, but took responsibility for the defeat herself as well. 

Clinton, speaking at a Women for Women International event, said that she'll explain more in a book she's writing about the campaign.

"I was the candidate. I was the person who was on the ballot and I am very aware of, you know, the challenges, the problems, the shortfalls that we had," Clinton said. "Again, I will write all this out for you."

Clinton said she was on track to winning the election until Oct. 28, when news broke that Comey had sent a letter to Congress announcing that he had reopened the investigation into her emails. 

Clinton also attributed the loss to Russian hackers who allegedly attacked Democratic email accounts, then gave the emails to WikiLeaks for publication.

"I was on the way to winning until the combination of Jim Comey's letter on October 28 and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me, but got scared off," Clinton said.

"And the evidence for that intervening event is, I think, compelling, persuasive. And so we overcame a lot. We overcame an enormous barrage of negativity, of false equivalency, and so much else."

To read the rest of our piece, click here.

 

WHAT'S IN THE SPOTLIGHT: 

THE TRUMP DOSSIER. (AGAIN).: Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleySmall ranchers say Biden letting them get squeezed These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Hillicon Valley — Senate panel advances major antitrust bill MORE (R-Iowa) is pushing FBI Director James Comey to clarify "inconsistencies" in information about a controversial opposition research dossier on President Trump.

Grassley, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to Comey saying there are discrepancies between information he gave during a March briefing and Justice Department documents made available after the closed-door meeting.

"There appear to be material inconsistencies between the description of the FBI's relationship with Mr. Steele that you did provide in your briefing and information contained in Justice Department documents made available to the Committee only after the briefing," Grassley wrote in the letter dated April 28.

The GOP senator warned that "whether those inconsistencies were honest mistakes or an attempt to downplay the actual extent of the FBI's relationship" with Christopher Steele, the former MI6 agent who wrote the dossier, the bureau needs to respond to Grassley's previous request for information.

Grassley sent Comey a letter on March 6 requesting any agreements the agency may have had with Steele.

He noted in Friday's letter that he and Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinOvernight Energy & Environment — Starting from 'scratch' on climate, spending bill Senate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products Eight senators ask Biden to reverse course on Trump-era solar tariffs MORE (D-Calif.) received a "four-sentence letter" last month that said the FBI addressed the concerns during Comey's closed-door briefing.  

But Grassley stressed that the FBI didn't indicate at the time of the briefing that that information was meant to respond to the March 6 letter, and that the closed-door meeting didn't address many of his questions.

To read the rest of our piece, click here.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Links from our blog, The Hill, and around the Web.

Get da deets on DDoS. (The Hill)

Lindsey Graham wants Susan Rice to testify on unmasking. (The Hill)

Hopefully not every instance of unmasking... The NSA announced Tuesday it granted 2,000 unmasking requests in 2016. (The Hill)

An Indian IT firm is hiring 10,000 U.S. workers. (The Hill)

The Senate GOP introduced an anti-net neutrality bill. (The Hill)

Democrats remain firmly anti the anti-net neutrality bill (The Hill).

Surveillance and visas top the agenda of the judiciary chair. (The Hill).

The DOJ Russia probe has a new boss. (The Hill).

IBM accidentally shipped malware-infected USB sticks. (Graham Cluley).

Researchers at Rapid7 found security flaws in the Fuze chat app. (Rapid7)

 

If you'd like to receive our newsletter in your inbox, please sign up here.