The House Homeland Security Committee on Thursday passed a number of bipartisan bills that now go to the full House for consideration, including a measure introduced last week aimed as strengthening the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) role in protecting control systems that connect industrial systems to the internet.
The seven bills were approved unanimously.
The DHS Industrial Control Systems Enhancement Act (H.R. 1833) ensures CISA has the lead role in protecting critical infrastructure and requires the agency to maintain capabilities to detect and mitigate threats and vulnerabilities to industrial control systems. It also requires the agency to maintain cross-sector incident response capabilities, provide technical assistance to stakeholders, and collect, coordinate and provide vulnerability information about industrial control systems to stakeholders.
Four bills dealing with the Transportation Security Administration were passed. The Transportation Security Transparency Improvement Act (H.R. 1871) requires the agency to improve its processes for designating Sensitive Security Information and communicating with stakeholders about security directives and emergency amendments.
The Transportation Security Public Threat Preparedness Act (H.R. 1895) authorizes TSA to send staff to other Department of Homeland Security components and federal agencies to improve response efforts to public health threats to transportation security systems. The agency is also required to analyze the risk of DHS and the government’s preparedness to respond to public health threats to the transportation security system.
Two bills deal with TSA and the COVID-19 pandemic. The Transportation Security Preparedness Act of 2021 (H.R. 1893) requires the agency to survey its workforce on how it has handled COVID-19 and develop a preparedness plan for future disease outbreaks. The Security Screening During COVID-19 Act (H.R. 1877) mandates TSA implement a plan to enhance security operations during the pandemic to reduce the spread of COVID-19 at passenger security checkpoints and month the workforce.
The other bills approved include the Supporting Research and Development for First Responders Act (H.R. 1850), which directs DHS to conduct research and development of protective equipment and other technology used by first responders. The House has previously passed similar legislation.
The seventh bill approved by the committee, the Strengthening Local Transportation Security Capabilities Act of 2021 (H.R. 1870) would improve information sharing by having more federal intelligence analysts and resources deployed near high-risk surface transportation system assets. It would also provide terrorism-focused training for federal, state and local law enforcement authorities. Similar legislation was also previously approved by the House.