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Ruppersberger Joins Bipartisan Group in Introducing Legislation to Help State and Local Governments Secure Their Networks

Feb 10, 2020
Press Release

(Washington, DC) – Today, Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-02), along with Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), Rep. John Katko (R-NY), Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), introduced bipartisan legislation 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 been rich targets for cyber adversaries and the frequency of these attacks is accelerating. 

In 2019 alone, ransomware attacks crippled state and local agencies in the City of Baltimore, Louisiana, 22 towns in Texas, a school district in Syracuse, and many other communities scattered across the country.

“Hackers are increasingly targeting state and local governments, as we painfully learned in Baltimore last year, where a ransomware attack cost the city more than $10 million,” said Congressman Ruppersberger. “Even worse, some communities are actually paying the ransom – it’s a risk calculation that many at the state and local level do not have the expertise to make. This legislation will give state and local governments the resources they need to invest in cybersecurity and protect themselves and their citizens.”

The State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act:

  • 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.

“The State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act is a critically important piece of legislation that provides state and local governments the tools they need to significantly invest in their cybersecurity infrastructure,” said Congressman Cedric Richmond, Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee’s Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, & Innovation Subcommittee. “Louisiana has long been vulnerable to cyber-attacks, and this bill offers the resources needed to ensure protection against potential threats. I’m proud to introduce this comprehensive measure to give Louisiana and other states across the country the proper framework they need to implement vital cybersecurity plans.”

“As we saw in Central New York with recent attacks on the City of Syracuse School District and the Onondaga County Public Library System, ransomware attacks on state and local governments continue to increase nationwide, leaving municipalities vulnerable and facing massive costs,” said Congressman Katko, Ranking Member of the Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, & Innovation Subcommittee. “That’s why, as the Ranking Member on the House Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection & Innovation, I am proud to join members on both sides of the aisle in introducing bipartisan legislation to provide state and local officials with the necessary funds and guidance to allow them to be prepared for, respond to, and recover from cyberattacks.”

“With cyber security threats on the rise, the federal government should be devoting more attention and resources to combating cyber threats,” said Rep. Kilmer. “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’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing a bipartisan plan to give state and local governments more tools to counter these cyber threats.”

“This past summer, my home state of Texas experienced one of the largest ransomware attacks, which impacted more than 20 state and local government entities,” added Congressman McCaul. “We must ensure that when the next attack comes, our state and local governments have the tools to protect themselves against malicious hackers. I will continue to support bipartisan legislation that will bolster our cyber-infrastructure against our foreign advisories.”

“For too long, our State and local governments have had to fend for themselves as foreign adversaries and cyber criminals have targeted their networks,” added Congressman Thompson, Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security. “The State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act will provide long overdue resources and support to State, local, Tribal, and territorial governments across the country whose cyber defenses are outmatched by sophisticated adversaries.  Over the past two years, we have seen the impact of major cyber breaches cost large U.S. cities nearly $20 million. Making smart investments in cybersecurity at the State and local level is not only fiscally responsible, it is a national security imperative. I commend Subcommittee Chairman Richmond for prioritizing this important issue.”

The State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act will be marked up in the Committee on Homeland Security this Wednesday.

Link to Bill Text

Link to Bill Fact Sheet