House lawmaker expects cybersecurity bill to pass before recess

The outlook for congressional passage of cybersecurity legislation looks good this year, despite the short time remaining in the session, House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y., said Thursday.

The New York Republican hopes final action on his House-passed bill, to authorize research and development for computer and network security and research fellowship programs, will occur by the August congressional recess.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved a companion measure in May, and House and Senate staffers are discussing the differences. The bill's proponents of the bill are trying to avoid a formal negotiation on it by resolving differences privately and winning voice-vote passage of a compromise in both chambers, according to a Senate aide.

The Senate committee added pieces of two separate bills, including a provision requiring agencies to adopt "best practices" on cybersecurity. The technology industry fears the language would dictate specific technologies for agency security-though a bill sponsor, Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., intended the language to be technology-neutral, sources said.

Boehlert also said it "shouldn't be a problem" to pass the so-called "tech talent" bill before the recess. The legislation would establish a competitive grant program administered by the National Science Foundation to increase the number of U.S. students obtaining undergraduate degrees in nonmedical science and technology.

The bill, approved by the Science Committee in May but still not scheduled for a floor vote, has the support of the high-tech industry and top university administrators, Boehlert said.

He also is reviewing legislation that would create a so-called NetGuard of tech experts who could be called into action in case of disaster. That bill's sponsor, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., came to Boehlert's office to pitch it, but the measure currently would not be under the Science Committee's jurisdiction, said Boehlert's chief of staff.

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