February 08, 2019

San Antonio Delegation Introduces Legislation to Address Threats to U.S. Cybersecurity

WASHINGTON—Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Vice Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and a member of the House Intelligence and Education and Labor Committees; Congressman Will Hurd (TX-23), a former undercover CIA officer, cybersecurity entrepreneur and IT Subcommittee Chair; Congressman Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), Chairman of the Health Subcommittee on Ways and Means; and Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) introduced legislation that supports efforts to address cybersecurity risks and incidents, including threats or acts of cyber-related terrorism.

Specifically, the National Security Preparedness Consortium Act of 2019 (H.R. 1062) seeks to allow the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to work directly with a consortium of nonprofit and academic institutions—such as the one at the University of Texas San Antonio—to support and enhance our cybersecurity responses and ability to mitigate risk and threats to our infrastructure.

“In the age of cyber, it’s critical we adapt our defenses to protect U.S. national interest and security from both state and non-state actors. In doing so, we must have a mechanism that would help coordinate the best practices of the private sector, academia, and all levels of government to find cohesive, effective cyber security responses,” said Chairman Castro. “The National Security Preparedness Consortium Act of 2019 does just that, by coordinating the very best practices of nonprofit and academia, as well as local and state governments under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to develop cohesive, effective cyber security responses and help safeguard our interests against those who seek to undermine them. Our defense systems, first responders and officials must continue to act as a bulwark against cybersecurity risks and need all of our operational support to do so.”

“No one is immune to cyberattacks, including our state and local governments. Unfortunately our local communities often do not possess the same digital resources as the federal government or the tools to detect, respond to and recover from a cyberattack," said Congressman Hurd, a former undercover CIA officer, cybersecurity entrepreneur and IT Subcommittee Chair who has been a leading voice in government IT and encryption debates. “This public-private partnership will strengthen cyber preparedness at the local level while enhancing the profile of San Antonio’s cybersecurity ecosystem. UTSA already offers a top-notch cybersecurity education, and this authorization will further position the university to develop cutting-edge technologies that the rest of the nation will adopt.”

“We must continue to enhance our nation’s cybersecurity efforts and properly safeguard the U.S. from outside organizations that seek to undermine our national security,” said Congressman Cuellar. “Unfortunately, institutions across the country often lack the resources needed to create and maintain adequate cyber security units. The National Security Preparedness Consortium Act is a crucial step in addressing this issue by implementing and executing protective measures that properly defend the U.S. government from external threats. By increasing cybersecurity measures in our state and local governments through training and increased collaborations with colleges and universities, and by having a stronger risk and incident prevention and response force, we will be better prepared to handle a variety of 21st century cyber challenges. As an appropriator, I will continue to work with my colleagues from the San Antonio delegation to include funding for these measures.”

“Cybersecurity is national security—our effort will help advance preparedness, response agility, and local and national coordination. It supports building the type of walls we do need: firewalls to keep our country safe,” said Congressman Doggett. “As a top cybersecurity hub and home to leading cybersecurity programs at UTSA, Military City, U.S.A is ready to serve our national interests by protecting and enhancing our cybersecurity needs.”

Background: The National Security Preparedness Consortium Act of 2019 seeks to provide training to state and local first responders and officials, develop curriculums, and provide technical assistance; conduct cross-sector cybersecurity training and simulation exercises for state and local governments, critical infrastructure owners and operators, and private industry; assist states and communities in developing cybersecurity information sharing programs; and help incorporate cybersecurity risk and incident prevention and response into existing state and local emergency plans and continuity of operations plans. You can read more about the legislation here.

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