Friday, January 20, 2017

HR 54 Introduced – Cyber Defense

Earlier this month Rep. Jackson-Lee (D,TX) introduced HR 54, the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity Asset Protection of Infrastructure under Terrorist Attack Logistical Structure or CAPITALS Act. The bill would require DHS to conduct a study on the feasibility of establishing a Department of Homeland Security Civilian Cyber Defense National Resource.

Cyber Defense National Resource

There are no details in the bill about how such a resource would be organized or funded. The only thing that is clear is that this resource would be separate from any military organization (including the National Guard). There is nothing in the bill that would address whether or not the force would be able to address control system security issues.

The study required in this bill is very similar to the Cyber National Guard study required in HR 60 introduced last session by Jackson-Lee. The only substantial differences are the change in the agency responsible for the study (the HR 60 study was to be conducted by the Director of National Intelligence) and the name of the organization (HR 60 called it the Cyber Defense National Guard).

Section 2(b)(8) of the bill specifically directs the study to include a look at the impact of having substantial numbers of the ‘resource’ not having “military, intelligence, law enforcement, or government work experience”. This does raise questions about the source of personnel for such an organization and how much training in cybersecurity would be a pre-requisite for membership in the organization.

Moving Forward

The changes in the bill did have a practical political effect on the bill. HR 60 had been referred to the House Intelligence Committee for consideration. Since the new study and organization would be a DHS action, HR 54 has been referred to the House Homeland Security Committee and it’s Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies Subcommittee. Ms. Jackson-Lee is an influential Democrat on both the Committee and Subcommittee. Since the bill only requires the conduct of a study and authorizes no funds for that study and subsequent report, there appears to be no substantial impediment to this bill being considered.

I suspect that the changes made to this bill indicate that Jackson-Lee is seriously interested in seeing the bill passed. I suspect that we will see this bill considered by the Committee in the coming months. I would not be surprised to see the bill make it to the floor under the suspension of rules process where it would probably pass with substantial bipartisan support.

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