The Senate on Tuesday approved a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that includes more than $1.5 billion in funding for cybersecurity programs.
The bill, which must still be passed by the House and signed by the president, includes $1 billion for a four-year grant program to provide grants to state and local governments to strengthen their cyber defenses. The cybersecurity funding under the State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act would be administered by the Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684) was approved by a vote of 69 to 30 and also authorizes $100 million for a response and recovery fund to support federal and non-federal entities that are impacted by a significant cyber incident. The funding provided under the Cyber Response and Recovery Act would be available over five years.
The Cyber Response and Recovery Act requires the National Cyber Director (NCD) to declare a significant incident, which could be ongoing or imminent, that would impact national security, economic security, or government operations, and enable the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to coordinate response efforts.
The Office of the NCD, a new position in the White House, would receive $21 million in the bill to begin to hire personnel. The NCD is responsible for overseeing the coordination and implementation of national cybersecurity policy and strategy.
Another provision of the infrastructure bill includes $250 million over five years to create a Rural and Municipal Utility Advanced Cybersecurity Grant and Technical Assistance Program within the Department of Energy to provide grants and technical assistance to electric utility systems that are lacking in cybersecurity resources, own assets critical to the bulk power system, or own defense critical electric infrastructure. The grants will be used to deploy technologies to protect, defend, respond to and recover from cybersecurity threats.
Another $250 million would also be available over five years to enhance the cyber security of the nation’s power grid through the development of technologies for the energy sector. The grant program would also be administered by DoE.
The bill also authorizes $50 million over five years for DoE to test the department’s emergency response capabilities, expand cooperation with the intelligence community, enhance tools for monitoring the status of the energy sector, and assist small electric utilities in assessing and improving their cybersecurity.