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

May 12, 2021
Press Release

(Washington, D) – Today, Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers including Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), Rep. John Katko (R-NY), Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), in introducing 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 2020, ransomware attacks crippled State and local agencies, including the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, a county library system in California, and police departments in North Miami Beach, FL and Trenton, NJ, along with many other communities scattered across the country. Already, in 2021, ransomware attacks have forced a school district in Massachusetts to cancel its first day of in-person classes and have threatened the Washington, DC, police department with the release of sensitive data. In 2019, a ransomeware attack in Baltimore cost taxpayers $18 million.

“As we are painfully learning in cities across America, hackers are taking advantage of under-resourced IT departments at the state and local level that are competing with every other community need – crime, water systems, schools – for funds,” said Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, a former County Executive. “This grant program will leverage federal cyber expertise and enable our states and governments to better protect themselves against these sophisticated attacks. As governments move more and more services and data online, now is the time to pass this legislation.”

The State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act:

  • Establishes a $500 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.
  • Requires CISA to assess the feasibility of implementing a short-term rotational program for the detail of approved State, local, Tribal, and Territorial government employees in cyber workforce positions at CISA.

“In the decade since I first Chaired the cybersecurity subcommittee, the number of cases and the financial impact of ransomware have skyrocketed. These attacks are more than a mere inconvenience – they are a national security threat,” said Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, Chairwoman of the Homeland Security Committee’s Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, & Innovation Subcommittee. “That is why I introduced the State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act, which would authorize $500 million in annual grants to state, local, Tribal, and Territorial governments to strengthen their cybersecurity, while insisting they step up to prioritize cybersecurity in their own budgets. I am proud of the bipartisan support this bill has received and look forward to working with my colleagues to get this critical legislation enacted.”

“Cyber-attacks have increased at an alarming rate in recent years. These attacks are an imminent and existential threat to our national security, and we must do everything we can to prevent their continued occurrence,” said Congressman Andrew R. Garbarino, Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Committee’s Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, & Innovation Subcommittee. “The State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act is an essential first step to ensure our state and local governments are not left vulnerable to cyber-crimes. This bill would empower CISA to help state and local governments shore up their cyber defense before an attack occurs, as well as establish a grant program to incentivize states to strengthen their own cybersecurity programs. We cannot wait any longer to invest in systems and protocols that will improve our cybersecurity. I am proud to join Chairwoman Clarke in introducing this bipartisan and essential bill aimed at addressing the cybersecurity needs and priorities of our entire nation.”

“As we saw in Central New York with 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 House Homeland Security Committee. “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 defend against, 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 Congressman Derek Kilmer. “Cyber-attacks could threaten our electrical grid, 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.”

“Congress must properly equip our state and local governments with the proper tools to bolster our nation’s cyber-defenses and combat malign threats. In 2020, Texas saw firsthand the serious impacts of cyberattacks when Texas courts and the Texas Department of Transportation were hit with ransomware attacks. It is clear there is much work to be done in protecting our nation against cyber threats. This legislation will use federal resources to modernize local and state government’s cyber infrastructure in an effort to protect Americans and their day-to-day lives,”said Congressman Michael McCaul.

“The harms communities face from ransomware attacks are frequently not just financial, they have led to cancelled school days, delayed medical procedures, and disruptions to emergency response services. To be clear, this is a national security threat,” said Congressman Bennie G. Thompson, Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security. “It is essential that we pass Chairwoman Clarke’s State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act to ensure state, local, Tribal, and Territorial governments get the assistance they need to defend their networks. I am proud to be a cosponsor of this important legislation and look forward to working with Chairwoman Clarke and the bill’s bipartisan group of supporters to get it enacted into law. We cannot afford to wait any longer to provide funding necessary to protect our state and local governments.”

Link to Legislation Text

Link to Bill Fact Sheet