Yet another lawmaker is pushing Congress to allocate more money to strengthen the nation’s cybersecurity defenses.
John Katko (R-NY), the ranking member on the House Homeland Security Committee, has reportedly submitted a budget proposal that would see the Homeland Security Department’s cyber wing’s funding bump up by 25 percent to some $2.5 billion for FY 2022.
In theory, the proposal -- coupled with President Biden's Executive Order on Cybersecurity -- could trigger more federal contracts MSSPs (managed security services providers), though the MSSPs would need to fulfill new IT service provider requirements outlined by Biden's order.
President Biden has proposed an allocation of $2.1 billion for the Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Security Agency (CISA) that amounted to a $110 million increase from the 2021 enacted level. In early April, the Office of Management and Budget released Biden’s FY 2022 discretionary funding request to kick off the annual appropriation process in Congress.
“In order for CISA to compete against nefarious nation-state actors such as China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, it must be equipped with tools of equal or greater measure,” Katko wrote in the budget proposal, which was reviewed by The Hill. "The United States remains the most advanced nation in the world when it comes to cyber capabilities, yet we continue to see devastating and avoidable cyberattacks every few months.”
Earlier this year, CISA received $650 million under the American Rescue Plan Act, an amount Katko called a “down payment.”
The Congressman stumped for a CISA budget increase just days after Reps. Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Mike Gallagher (R-WI), urged the House Appropriations Committee to allocate at least $400 million more to CISA’s budget for FY 2022. In praising CISA’s response to the massive SolarWinds Orion attack tied to Russian-backed cyber operatives and the vast Microsoft Exchange Server infiltration carried out by the China-sponsored Hafnium hacking crew, Langevin and Gallagher wrote to the Committee said “CISA continues to provide services to the rest of the U.S. government to identify threats and harden federal networks against future attacks, to the extent that their resources allow.”
The three Congressional members add to increasingly louder calls for funding to buttress the nation’s cybersecurity defenses. House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ), ranking member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), and Reps. Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Brett Guthrie (R-KY) are asking the House Appropriations Committee to provide $750 million for a fund to secure telecommunications networks.
Katko has been a consistent cybersecurity advocate. Most recently, he joined a bipartisan group of legislators to reintroduce the State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act to establish a $400 million grant program aimed at helping lower-level government agencies erect digital barriers to cyber attacks. When the Act was first introduced in late 2020, Katko vowed to “bring cybersecurity to the forefront and work to advance comprehensive measures that strengthen our nation’s cyber defenses.”
Cybersecurity takes a backseat in the White House’s proposed $2.25 trillion infrastructure package, which is unlikely to garner bipartisan support, with no money allocated to defend the country from cyber attacks on critical infrastructure targets.