Thornberry: House Will Pass Cybersecurity Legislation Based on GOP Blueprint
By Jennifer Scholtes, CQ Staff
The push to implement the recommendations of the House Cybersecurity Task Force is expected to begin this week with the introduction of several bills that address parts of the panel’s recently released report.
The task force’s leader, William M. “Mac” Thornberry, said Tuesday that the group’s members and other House lawmakers are drafting separate pieces of legislation to take on specific points from the cybersecurity blueprint laid out last week. The Texas Republican told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that he anticipates that a number of those measures will be unveiled in the next few days.
Thornberry would not divulge the details of the bills, nor would he say who might be sponsoring them. But he said he was confident that legislation based on the Republican-crafted framework would pass the House. He said that instead of trying to address all cybersecurity concerns in the recommendations, the task force report outlined provisions that could stand a chance of enactment.
“Some issues are going to be controversial and difficult to pass,” Thornberry said. “It doesn’t mean we stay away from all the controversy. But the charge is: What can we pass this Congress — the way it’s formulated now — that will make a significant difference in cybersecurity?”
Nine Panels’ Approval
Because many committees have stakes in the issue, the task force got all nine House panels with jurisdiction over cybersecurity to agree to the plan before it was released. Some committees had “very different” perspectives on what the legislative pieces should include, so finding consensus was crucial to preventing disagreements that have derailed cybersecurity measures in the past, Thornberry said.
“We didn’t want to be a month down the road and somebody put up a red flag and say, ‘We’re not for that,’ ” he said. But even with committee agreement on the framework, he acknowledged, “We’re still going to have trouble with the details, I understand that.”
Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, will coordinate legislative action among committees but wants to preserve the usual legislative process, “with amendments and all the messiness,” Thornberry said. Working with the Senate, he noted, will be more difficult.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., for years has supported enacting cybersecurity legislation as one comprehensive bill, rather than as part of a piecemeal approach, which is favored in the House. Those differing approaches have yet to be resolved, Thornberry said.
A version of this story appeared on CQ Homeland Security.
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