House OKs Homeland Security Bill With New Cybersecurity Language

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By Daniel R. Stoller

The House July 20 passed a Department of Homeland Security reauthorization bill, with several new cybersecurity provisions.

The DHS Reauthorization Act (H.R. 2825), which the House passed on a 386-41 vote, would reauthorize, for the first time, programs and initiatives in the department since it was created after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The measure, which now heads to the Senate, adds specific references to cybersecurity functions of the department that weren’t in the original 2002 legislation.

As part of reorganization efforts, the bill would change the DHS’s Office of Strategy, Policy and Plans into specific policy groups, including a new office of Cyber, Infrastructure and Resilience Policy.

As part of an information-sharing initiative, the DHS would share more cyberthreat data with state and local authorities and fusion centers. Also under the bill, the Federal Emergency Management Agency would study the use of grant funds to respond to cybersecurity incidents.

The department would also have to implement a cybersecurity risk model for the airline industry consistent with the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s cybersecurity framework. It would have to create guidelines for the voluntary reporting of airline cybersecurity threats.

President Donald Trump said in a July 20 statement that as the country faces “adversaries waging attacks in cyberspace,” Secretary John Kelly and DHS staff will “have all the tools necessary to carry out their mission” under the House measure.

Congressional jurisdiction issues have prevented a comprehensive DHS reauthorization measure in the past. This year, the chairmen of eight House committees with jurisdiction over the department agreed to a memorandum of understanding that outlined their roles in reauthorizing it.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said in a July 20 statement that Congress is “finally on a solid path to overhaul” the DHS “and make sure it stays ahead of threats” to the U.S.

With assistance from Sarah Babbage and Michael Smallberg in Washington

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel R. Stoller in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Donald Aplin at

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Full text of the bill is available at

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