House panel approves major funding boost for CISA in party-line vote
The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday approved a spending bill that would boost CISA’s budget by nearly $400 million in the next fiscal year, though it remains unclear when the measure will receive a floor vote.
The 33-24 vote to okay a $52.8 billion budget for DHS — an increase of almost a billion dollars over the current fiscal year — includes $2.42 billion CISA, a hike of $397.4 million and $288.7 million above the Biden administration’s budget request.
“As the Colonial Pipeline hack demonstrated, we need historic investments to protect our networks … This bill responds with the urgency necessary to meet the moment,” House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said in her opening statement.
The measure “also funds research for voting technologies and election procedures to help secure the cyber infrastructure that underpins our elections as we secure our digital infrastructure,” she added.
The legislation passed with zero Republican votes, who objected to it over a myriad immigration concerns.
The spending plan provides additional money for CISA’s Joint Cyber Planning Office and to help develop the agency’s “Continuity of Economy Planning” — two recommendations made last year by the Cyberspace Solarium Commission and put into law in the defense policy bill.
The new office is “designed to work with the National Cyber director to help develop those broad interagency and public/private plans for how we're going to respond to significant incidents,” Brandon Wales, who served as CISA’s acting director for the last eight months, said earlier in the day at an Information Security Media Group cybersecurity summit.
“We're working hard now to get that joint cyber planning office stood up this year,” he said.
The House legislation also features $20 million to create a “Cyber Response and Recovery Fund,” which the committee says would be used to “scale up government asset response efforts, including through reimbursement to federal agencies for services provided in support of non-federal public and private critical infrastructure in response to a significant cyber incident when the president has determined additional resources are needed.”
Politico reported that House Democrats plan to bring a massive spending package to the chamber floor in two weeks. However, the DHS bill is expected to be left out.
The committee’s legislation was passed just hours after Jen Easterly was formally sworn in as CISA’s new chief.
In a statement, she thanked the agency’s existing leadership and that she looked forward to "building on their excellent work to continue evolving the strategy, workforce, and culture of CISA."
Martin Matishak is a senior cybersecurity reporter for The Record. He spent the last five years at Politico, where he covered Congress, the Pentagon and the U.S. intelligence community and was a driving force behind the publication's cybersecurity newsletter.