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Senate Passes Cybersecurity Reporting Bill, Member Input Requested

Mar 2, 2022

The U.S. Senate passed S.3600, the Strengthening Cybersecurity Act of 2022, by unanimous consent on March 1. If signed into law, the bill would direct the Department of Homeland Security, through the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), to take a more centralized role in overseeing cybersecurity matters impacting critical utility infrastructure sectors.

Of chief interest to the water sector, the bill would establish a 72-hour federal reporting requirement for utilities from when a utility “reasonably believes” a cyber incident has occurred and a 24-hour reporting requirement if a ransom payment is solicited or paid because of an incident. The bill applies to all critical infrastructure utilities, including electric, gas, water, and wastewater. 

Action on the bill comes in response to the increased cybersecurity threat posed by Russia as Russian President Vladimir Putin reacts to economic sanctions levied by the international community due to his invasion of Ukraine. The rapid and unanimous action of the Senate on the legislation is indicative of the seriousness with which Senators take this issue. 

Last fall, the bill was dropped out of consideration in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) due to objections led by Senator Rick Scott (R-FL). At the time, he expressed concerns about the burden it could have on small businesses and entities, but those arguments were mostly void as the Senate acted this week. 

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration. It is unclear what steps the House may take, but the field is set for expedient consideration in the event they want to act.  

NACWA has previously discussed this legislation with its Security & Emergency Preparedness Committee and Legislative Workgroup, with no major concerns being raised by either group. NACWA is interested in any thoughts or reactions other members may have to the bill – please contact Tony Frye or Kristina Surfus on NACWA’s legislative team with any input.

NACWA remains active in this space and will continue to engage with Congress, EPA and other relevant agencies as the situation unfolds.

 

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