The House of Representatives passed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Industrial Control Systems (ICS) Capabilities Enhancement Act on July 20, and the bill now has bipartisan companion legislation in the Senate.

Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., introduced companion legislation by the same title July 22, that would require DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to take the lead on better identifying and mitigating threats to ICS infrastructure.

“As foreign adversaries and the criminal organizations they harbor continue to target our critical infrastructure systems, it is essential we work to protect these networks from attacks that can lead to significant harm to the American people,” Peters said in a press release.

The bill would amend the Homeland Security Act to require the director of CISA to maintain capabilities to detect and mitigate threats and vulnerabilities affecting automated control of critical infrastructure. Among CISA’s responsibilities would be maintaining cross-sector incident response capabilities to respond to cybersecurity incidents and providing cybersecurity technical assistance to stakeholders.

The bill passed the House unanimously and is co-sponsored in the Senate by Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Mark Warner, D-Va., and Marco Rubio R-Fla. The bill was introduced in the House back in March.

“This bipartisan, commonsense bill will help shore up the defenses of critical infrastructure networks and address vulnerabilities in products and technologies that help operate them,” said Sen. Peters.

Securing critical infrastructure from cyberattacks has become increasingly important in light of cyberattacks on water treatment facilities in Florida and California, as well as the ransomware attack on a major fuel pipeline that led to panic buying and a subsequent shortage along the East coast.

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.