Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Cybersecurity Committee, has named fellow Texas Republican and new member John Ratcliffe to chair the Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies subcommittee in the new Congress, which convenes Tuesday (Jan. 6). Ratcliffe, a former U.S. attorney and mayor, succeeds Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.). Ratcliffe, a conservative with Tea Party backing, won a primary challenge to Rep. Ralph Hall last May and went on to win in the general election. As a U.S. attorney in the Bush administration, Ratcliffe was a member of the Attorney General’s Advisory Subcommittee on Terrorism and National Security, chief of anti-terrorism and national security for the Eastern District of Texas, and prosecuted cyber crimes.
It’s 2015 and the GOP-dominated 114th congress returns to Washington tomorrow. After years of maintaining a hands-off approach toward cybersecurity, the new Republican-led Congress is poised to jump all over this issue – mostly because of the December data breach at Sony Pictures and the subsequent brouhaha over the release of the now infamous movie, The Interview.
While no one was voting for anything in late December, there were a few consistent cybersecurity themes coming from Congress:
- Blame the President. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) the incoming chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, blamed the Sony Picture’s data breach on the Obama administration, citing a lack of leadership on national cybersecurity. Note that this is the same Senator McCain who sided with the Chamber of Commerce in 2012 in blocking the passage of Cybersecurity legislation that had bipartisan support in the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs (HSGAC) committee.
- Declare a Cyberwar Against North Korea. Before exiting Washington, retiring Congressman Mike Rogers (R-MI) and others have suggested that the U.S. should declare a cyberwar on North Korea and take out its ability to launch another cyber-attack on the U.S. I guess no one told the Congressman about North Korea’s minimal attack surface or explained how the IP protocol works to him. Read More
WASHINGTON — Despite hack attacks against high-profile targets ranging from Home Depot to the White House, Congress is headed toward adjournment in a few days without passing a major cybersecurity bill.
“You would think Congress would have the motivation to act given all the cyber attacks,” said Darrell West, director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution. “But even on an issue as important as cybersecurity, it’s been hard to get members of Congress to agree on a solution.”