The House late Tuesday afternoon passed a number of bipartisan homeland security and cyber bills, including the Cyber Diplomacy Act, which directs the president to pursue international norms in cyberspace and authorizes a cyber bureau within the Department of State to pursue these norms.
“In an increasingly connected world, we must have the proper structures in place to promote our values and interests in cyberspace,” Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisc.), a co-sponsor of the Cyber Diplomacy Act (H.R. 1251), said in a statement Tuesday evening. He also urged the Senate to pass the bill.
The cyber diplomacy bill would establish an ambassador-level Bureau of International Cyberspace Policy within the State Department. The head of the bureau would be appointed by the president and confirmed by the senate.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), another co-sponsor of the bill, said earlier this year that the U.S. has been missing an “ambassador like position on cybersecurity that could negotiate with other countries and allies particularly, certain norms and standards within cyberspace.”
The policy foundation for the international cyber norms sought by Congress is described in the bill as an effort “to promote an open, interoperable, reliable, unfettered, and secure Internet government by the multi-stakeholder model, which promotes human rights, democracy, and rule of law, including freedom of expression, innovation, communication, and economic prosperity; and respects privacy and guards against deception, fraud, and theft.”
The cyber bill and seven others having to do with the Department of Homeland Security were approved together by a 355 to 69 vote.
The DHS Morale Act (H.R. 490) was introduced by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, and would address morale at the department by expanding the duties of the Chief Human Capital Officer for leader development and employee engagement, having a catalogue of available employee development opportunities, and issuing a department-wide employee engagement action plan.
Another human resources bill, the Homeland Security Acquisition Professional Career Program Act (H.R. 367), introduced by Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.), addresses shortages within the DHS acquisition workforce through diversification efforts, including recruitment from minority-serving colleges and universities and of veterans.
The CBRN Intelligence and Information Sharing Act of 2021 (H.R. 397), was introduced by Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.) and directs the Office of Intelligence and Analysis to coordinate information sharing on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats with authorities at all government levels.
The Quadrennial Homeland Security Review Technical Corrections Act of 2021 (H.R. 370), introduced by Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), would make changes to the DHS quadrennial reviews related to consultation, prioritization, resources, deadlines and documentation.
The Transit Security Grant Program Flexibility Act (H.R. 396), introduced by Rep. Andrew Garbarino (D-N.Y.), makes changes to the Transit Security Grant Program to expand the scope of how transit agencies can use grant funds to cover security costs.
The Trusted Traveler Reconsideration and Restoration Act of 2021 (H.R. 473), introduced by Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee, directs the Government Accountability Office to review the department’s trusted traveler program and extend the enrollment period where an enrollee’s participation was revoked in error.
The final DHS bill approved, the Department of Homeland Security Mentor-Protégé Act of 2021 (H.R. 408), introduced by Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.), reauthorizes the mentor-protégé program that encourages large prime contractors to partner with and enhance the capabilities of small businesses to help small companies improve their ability to compete for future DHS contracts.