Legislative Branch Activity

Cybersecurity Legislation

Last week, Senate Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) stated that he is optimistic about the prospects for the cybersecurity information sharing legislation that he is currently working on with Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). He stated that the two Senators are currently working out some differences in their draft legislation related to the language in the bill on liability protection for companies that participate in information sharing with the federal government. Senator Chambliss called on the Senate to pass cybersecurity legislation this year, joining other Members like Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman John Rockefeller (D-WV). Challenges remain in the Senate to move legislation unless there is a clear path forward for a comprehensive cybersecurity bill that has support from the majority of the members of the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has indicated that bipartisan support for a bill is necessary in order to avoid the problems in 2012 when they previously considered a cybersecurity bill, which failed on the Senate floor.

Appropriations for Cybersecurity Programs

Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported out of committee its FY 2015 Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill that would provide funding for a number of cybersecurity-related federal programs. The bill provides $722 million for the prevention of cyber-crime through programs at the Department of Justice, which is the same funding level provided in FY 2014. In addition, the legislation also provides $15 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) National Cybersecurity Center for Excellence and $159 million for cybersecurity research and development programs at the National Science Foundation (NSF). The Senate plans to begin considering FY 2015 appropriations bills on the floor in mid-June and the Commerce-Justice-Science bill is likely to be among the first that reaches the floor.

The House recently passed its FY 2015 Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill by a 321-87 vote. The bill included an amendment that requires the Department of Commerce to assess the implementation of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, which was released earlier this year as required by President Obama’s February 2013 cybersecurity Executive Order. The Senate bill did not include similar language related to an assessment of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework.