House Homeland Security guts own cybersecurity bill in bid to remain relevant

'I wish it were not so' says Rep. Dan Lungren

Political exigencies required the House Homeland Security Committee to pass down a slimmed down version of its earlier subcommittee-approved cybersecurity bill, said Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) during a long and sometimes bitter April 18 markup session.

Lungren and Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) were the driving forces behind the PRECISE Act of 2011 (H.R. 3674) approved by Lungren's House Homeland Security subcommittee Feb. 1. Among its measures would have been to require the Homeland Security Department to work with operators of critical infrastructure to mitigate risks through market-based incentives and possibly through regulation.

The bill the full committee approved in a 16-13 vote instead calls on DHS to "solely upon the request of critical infrastructure owners and operators, assist such critical infrastructure owners and operators in protecting their critical infrastructure information systems."

Lungren told the committee that the bill as approved by the subcommittee would not be permitted onto the House floor.

"I would acknowledge this is a slimmed down version of the bill we presented in the subcommittee. I wish it were not so, but the reality of the situation is that it is what is required for us to move forward," Lungren said of the substitute amendment to the subcommittee bill.

House Homeland Security Committee members said they feared being left out of cybersecurity legislation debate; House leaders has dubbed the week of April 22 "cybersecurity week."

"We will be cut out of the process" if the PRECISE Act were left unmodified, said Committee Chairman Peter King (R-N.Y.)

 For more:
 - go to the markup webpage (amendments and webcast available)

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