The House Homeland Security Committee passed three cybersecurity-related bills in a markup session on Tuesday, with two of the bills covering cooperation with Israel.
The Cyber Preparedness Act of 2016 (H.R. 5459) was initially introduced by Rep. Dan Donovan (R-N.Y.) to expand the responsibility of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) State, Local, and Regional Fusion Center Initiative to include that the centers also serve as a point of contact to ensure dissemination of cybersecurity risk information within the scope of its information sharing environment. The centers serve as a focal point at the state/local level for the receipt, analysis, gathering, and sharing of threat-related information among the federal government and state, local, tribal, territorial, and private sector partners.
The bill calls for fusion center officers or intelligence analysts to assist law enforcement agencies and emergency response providers in using the cybersecurity risk information. It also says the DHS National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) may include and must share analysis and best practices with other state or major urban area fusion centers.
H.R. 5429 also states that localities receiving grants to protect against terrorism under the Urban Area Security Initiative or the State Homeland Security Grant Program may use those funds to prepare for and respond to cybersecurity risks and incidents.
The second cyber bill was H.R. 5843, the United States-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Enhancement Act of 2016. Introduced by Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), it establishes a grant program within DHS to promote cooperative research and development between the U.S. and Israel on cybersecurity.
The final cyber bill approved by the committed was the United States-Israel Advanced Research Partnership Act of 2016 (H.R. 5877). Introduced by Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), it promotes cooperative homeland security research and antiterrorism programs related to cybersecurity. It particularly allows DHS, in coordination with the State Department and other appropriate federal officials, to enter into cooperative research activities with Israel “to strengthen preparedness against cyber threats and enhance capabilities in cybersecurity.”
The Israel cyber bills were introduced and approved following a trip to Israel by Langevin and Ratcliffe earlier this year.
“When Rep. Langevin and I traveled to Israel earlier this year, our talks with Prime Minister Netanyahu and top Israeli officials prompted our focus on strengthening the joint cybersecurity efforts between our two countries,” Ratcliffe said in a statement after the bills passed out of committee.
“I’m glad that our recently introduced legislation to advance this effort was approved by the House Homeland Security Committee today, taking us one step closer toward establishing new levels of cybersecurity collaboration with our strongest and most trusted ally in the Middle East,” he added.
Committee Chairman Michal McCaul (R-Texas) also applauded Ratcliffe and Langevin at the markup for their bipartisan trip to Israel resulting in a tangible product.