Monday, September 28, 2020

House to Take Up 5 Cybersecurity Bills

This week the House is scheduled to take up 50 bills under the suspension of the rules process. Five of those bills are related to cybersecurity. The suspension of the rules process calls for limited debate and no amendment of the bill to be accepted from the floor. Bills are required to get a supermajority vote to pass.

The five cybersecurity bills are:

HR 359 – Enhancing Grid Security through Public-Private Partnerships Act, as amended (Rep. McNerney – Energy and Commerce)

HR 360 – Cyber Sense Act of 2020, as amended (Rep. Latta – Energy and Commerce)

HR 5760 – Grid Security Research and Development Act (Rep. Bera – Science, Space, and Technology)

HR 5780 – Safe Communities Act of 2020, as amended (Rep. Underwood – Homeland Security)

HR 5823 – State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act, as amended (Rep. Richmond – Homeland Security)

Only one of these bills as being considered this week have been changed since they were adopted in committee. HR 359 has had the phrase “and other Federal agencies” removed from language requiring the DOE to consult with various organizations as “the Secretary determines appropriate”. This means that Congress does not want to even suggest that DOE might want to consult with CISA. This is an odd change.

The other oddity in this list is the inclusion of HR 5760. The language from this bill was mostly included in the recently passed HR 4447. That bill has little to no chance of being considered by the Senate. That means that taking up this bill in a stand-alone version would increase its chances of making it to the President’s desk for signature. It makes one wonder why it was added to HR 4447 in the first place; it might have been an attempt to politically buy the vote of Rep Weber (R,TX) who was a cosponsor of HR 5760. If so, it did not work; Weber was not one of the 7 Republicans to vote for the bill.

The House leadership expects each of these bills to pass this week with substantial bipartisan support. This means that there is some chance that the bills could be taken up by the Senate under their unanimous consent process. We will have to wait and see what kind of votes these bills actually get before we can assess what those chances might actually be.

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