Congress Proposes Legislation to Help States Tackle Cybersecurity Concerns

On March 2, Congress proposed multiple bills focusing on helping states with the area of cybersecurity. One of these bills was the State Cyber Resiliency Act, which aims to establish a cybersecurity grant program that would provide resources for states to develop and implement effective cyber resiliency plans.

“Despite the velocity of the threat, 80% of states lack funding to develop sufficient cybersecurity,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D, VA), one of the bill’s sponsors. Sen. Warner along with Reps. Barbara Comstock (R, VA), Derek Kilmer (D, WA), and Sen. Cory Gardner (R, CO) introduced the legislation.

In addition, on the same day in the Senate, Sens. Gary Peters (D, MI) and David Perdue (R, GA) reintroduced the State and Local Cyber Protection Act. The bill that was introduced during the last Congress would require an arm of the Department of Homeland Security to respond to and train state, local, and tribal governments when they request help on preventing and reacting to cybersecurity threats. “Our nation is facing an ever-growing threat from increasingly sophisticated cyber-attacks, and we are only as strong as our weakest link,” said Peters. “State and local governments face unique cyber security threats than can endanger critical infrastructure, as well as residents’ sensitive personal and financial data.”

Three more bills were introduced by House Democrats in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. In an effort to improve cybersecurity, these bills would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to: “adopt rules to protect communications networks, set up an interagency panel to handle cybersecurity investigations and require Internet of Things devices to have certified cybersecurity standards.”

While it is doubtful that the bills will be moved along by congressional Republicans, the recent actions on the Hill signal more to come in regards to helping states address cyber concerns.