A bipartisan bill introduced Wednesday in the Senate would establish the creation of a specialized committee devoted solely to cybersecurity, an effort to narrow the chamber’s scope on an emerging topic that’s become as convoluted as it is consequential.
The proposal if approved would trigger the creation of a Senate Select Committee on Cybersecurity, a 21-member panel that would be tasked with drafting legislation, providing oversight and coordinating with other members of the federal government with regards to various facets related to the nation’s cybersecurity.
In light of at least 20 different House and Senate committees having held hearings related to cybersecurity during the 114th Congress, the authors of the proposal said their initiative would allow lawmakers to narrowly focus their attention on the topic.
“Cybersecurity policy is one of the most complex and significant challenges facing Congress, yet the Senate’s structure to investigate and address cyber issues is diffuse and inadequate. This has led to an uncoordinated policy response to recent cyber attacks on government agencies, businesses and infrastructure,” Sen. Cory Gardner, Colorado Republican, said in a statement. “The scope of the cyber threat is as varied as the actors who are responsible for them and the consequences of potential attacks. Therefore, as cyber risks threats evolve so must U.S. cybersecurity policy.”
Specifically the legislation would give the committee jurisdiction over domestic and foreign cybersecurity risks, including those that affect the computer systems of the U.S. and its infrastructure, its citizens, corporations, businesses and commerce.
The language of the bills also calls for giving the proposed committee jurisdiction in the Senate over state-sponsored threats, such as the alleged hacking campaigns waged against U.S. targets in the run-up to last year’s presidential election and other recent assaults attributed to foreign adversaries.
As proposed, the committee would be staffed by the chairman and ranking members of eight currently existing Senate committee, as well as five additional appointees.
Lawmakers in the Senate, meanwhile, last week announced the creation of a Senate Armed Services subcommittee focused on cybersecurity chaired by Sens. Mike Rounds, South Dakota Republican, and Bill Nelson, Florida Democrat.