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September 30, 2020

Richmond, Katko, Kilmer, McCaul, Ruppersberger, Thompson, Underwood Laud Passage of Bipartisan Legislation to Help State and Local Governments Secure Their Networks

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Reps. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), John Katko (R-NY), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), and Lauren Underwood (D-IL) marked House passage of H.R. 5823, the State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act, bipartisan legislation they introduced to authorize a new grant program at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to address cybersecurity vulnerabilities on State and local government networks. 

In recent years, State and local governments have become rich targets for cyber, but the coronavirus pandemic has made Federal action more urgent. State and local efforts to comport with social distancing guidelines have transitioned to telework, rapidly expanded online services, and rolled out online learning – greatly expanding the threat landscape. Crippled by COVID-19-related budget deficits, State and local governments lack the resources to adequately defend their networks.

The State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act (H.R. 5823):

  • Establishes a $400 million DHS grant program that incentivizes States to increase their own cybersecurity funding.
  • Requires DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) develop a strategy to improve the cybersecurity of State, local, tribal, and territorial governments.
  • Requires State, local, tribal, and territorial governments develop comprehensive Cybersecurity Plans to guide use of grant dollars.
  • Establishes a State and Local Cybersecurity Resiliency Committee so State, local, tribal, and territorial governments can advise CISA on their cybersecurity needs.

“For too long, the Federal Government has ignored a growing national security problem – vulnerably state and local networks.  As ransomware attacks devastated cities from Albany to Atlanta, the Congress did nothing. Then, late last year, a cyber-attack took out critical government networks in my own Congressional District, disrupting the operation of municipal and traffic courts as well as access to certain electronic health records and the City’s homeless cleaning and outreach sweep. The attack will cost the City over $7 million to fix but might have been prevented by investing in cybersecurity tools beforehand.  I thank my colleagues for working with me to move this legislation forward and help defend state and local networks,” said Congressman Richmond, former Chair of the Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, & Innovation Subcommittee.

“Following ransomware attacks on the Syracuse City School District and the Onondaga County Public Library System, I was proud to join my colleagues in introducing the State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act. Our bipartisan bill, which passed the House today, will ensure state and local governments have the necessary resources and guidance to be prepared for, respond to, and recover from cyberattacks. While the cyberattacks in Central New York last year underscored the need to bolster our cybersecurity, these threats have been growing for years. To ensure our community is protected against crippling, and often costly cyberattacks, I will continue working with Republicans and Democrats to pass commonsense legislation that addresses our nation’s cyber vulnerabilities,” said Congressman Katko, Ranking Member of the Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, & Innovation Subcommittee.

“With cyber security threats on the rise, the federal government should be devoting more attention and resources to cybersecurity. Cyber-attacks could threaten our election systems, municipally owned water treatment facilities, local emergency responder networks, or other vital government systems that impact our communities. That’s why I was proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bipartisan plan to give state and local governments more cybersecurity tools – and why I’m proud to see it pass the House today with support from Democrats and Republicans,” said Congressman Kilmer.

“Adversarial nations, like China, pose a great long-term threat to America’s national and economic security. Congress must bolster our nation’s cyber-defenses by equipping our state and local governments with the proper tools to repel threats. This legislation will modernize local and state government’s cyber infrastructure by using federal resources to invest in the safety and future of Americans,” said Congressman McCaul.

“State and local governments have long been a top target for cyber-attacks – as we painfully learned in Baltimore last year. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the threat as hackers exploit overwhelmed governments that are increasingly dependent on digital tools. As a former County Executive, I am proud the House has passed this bipartisan and common-sense legislation that will give state and local governments the resources they need to invest in cybersecurity, protecting their citizens and tax dollars,” said Congressman Ruppersberger.

 “State and local governments should not have to fend for themselves as foreign adversaries and cyber criminals have targeted their networks. Making smart investments in cybersecurity at the State and local level is not only fiscally responsible, it is a national security issue. As State and local governments have been increasingly targeted, and COVID-19 has increased our reliance on telework and online learning, it is time for the Federal government to step up and lend support. I commend Congressman Richmond for ensuring this bill gets through the House this year,” added Congressman Thompson, Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.

“For decades, the Federal government underinvested in the cybersecurity of state and local governments, leaving their networks vulnerable to criminal hackers and foreign state actors. Over the past two years, ransomware attacks against state and local governments have shut down cities, disrupted online learning, and cost taxpayers millions of dollars in network repair costs. Federal action is long overdue. As a proud cosponsor, I congratulate Congressman Richmond on the passage of this legislation and look forward to working with him to support Senate approval. In the meantime, as the new Chair of the Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Innovation Subcommittee, I will make sure the federal government brings all of its resources to bear to help defend state and local networks against cyberattacks,” added Congresswoman Underwood, Chair of the Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, & Innovation Subcommittee.

Link to Text of H.R. 5823 

Link to Bill Fact Sheet

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Press Contact

(Richmond) Jalina Porter at 202-225-6636

(Katko) Dan Kranz at 202-494-9652

(Kilmer) Andrew Wright at 202-225-5916

(McCaul) Rachel Walker at 202-225-2401

(Ruppersberger) Jaime Lennon at 410-628-2701

(Thompson) Adam Comis at 202-225-9978

(Underwood) Amanda Roberts at 202-225-2976