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Senate Homeland Security Committee Votes to Approve Bipartisan Hassan-Portman Bill to Bolster Cybersecurity

Committee Also Votes to Approve Bipartisan Measures to Create High-Level Federal Task Force to Help Prevent Security Breaches, Strengthen Protections for Whistleblowers

WASHINGTON – The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee today voted to approve the bipartisan DHS Cyber Incident Response Teams Act, introduced by Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) to bolster cybersecurity. The legislation requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to make permanent the “cyber hunt” and “cyber incident response” teams that help prevent cyberattacks on federal agencies, critical infrastructure, and the private sector, as well as help mitigate the impact of such attacks when they occur. Additionally, the Committee voted to approve the bipartisan Federal Rotational Cyber Workforce Program Act of 2018 that Senator Hassan cosponsored, which establishes a federal rotational cyber workforce called the Federal Rotational Cyber Workforce Program (FRCWP).

“Our country faces ever-evolving cyber threats from Russia, China, criminal hackers, and cyber terrorists every single day, and these bipartisan bills will help bolster cyber defenses at federal agencies in order to better protect Americans,” Senator Hassan said. “While we have far more work to do, these bipartisan bills are important steps to strengthen our elite cyber defense teams, and I urge my colleagues across the aisle to bring these measures to the floor for a vote as quickly as possible.”

“Our cyber response teams play a vital role in protecting critical networks and systems from cyber threats in both the public and private sectors,” Senator Portman said. “I’m pleased the committee approved this important bill and look forward to final passage by the Senate so that we can give DHS the guidance and authorities it needs to execute this important mission.”

The Committee also voted to approve a measure that Senator Hassan cosponsored to create a high-level federal task force to help prevent security breaches in the federal supply chain. This bill was introduced out of a need to ensure that software and hardware from foreign-owned companies like Kaspersky are not embedded in critical federal information systems. The Committee also voted to approve a bipartisan measure to enhance protections for whistleblowers by amending current law by protecting whistleblowers from retaliation when they disclose information with a supervisor in the employee’s direct chain of command, allowing the whistleblowers to work in the chain of command to highlight abuses.