Nov 4, 2022 - Technology

Exclusive: GOP Rep. pushes Biden for cyberattack action plan

Photo of Rep. Andrew Garbarino at the Capitol

Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-N.Y.) on the House steps at the Capitol in July 2021. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images

A top GOP congressional cyber leader is pushing the Biden administration to establish an economic continuity plan in the event of a massive cyberattack, in a new letter shared exclusively with Axios.

Why it matters: The letter gives a sneak peek at what will be top of mind for House GOP cyber leaders if their party takes control of the House after the upcoming elections.

Driving the news: Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-N.Y.) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) sent a letter Wednesday to President Biden demanding he follow through on a requirement in the 2021 national defense policy bill to establish a "Continuity of the Economy" plan in the event of a cyberattack that causes "severe degradation to economic activity."

  • The fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act required the president to submit a plan by Jan. 1, 2023.

Catch up quick: In the spring, the White House tasked the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) with drafting the plan, according to Garbarino and Gallagher's letter.

What they're saying: "As we approach the deadline for the submission of the COTE plan on Jan. 1, 2023, I am concerned that there appears to be limited action taken by CISA to develop or implement this plan," the lawmakers wrote.

  • "The execution of this law requires a whole-of-government effort led by the commander-in-chief," the letter continues. "It is unfortunate that by waiting more than a year to task CISA with completing the plan, you have ultimately set them up to fail to meet the deadline set by Congress."

The big picture: House GOP lawmakers are expected to be more critical of the Biden administration's cybersecurity efforts if the GOP wins control of the lower chamber next week.

  • Republican lawmakers will press harder for the administration to share metrics of success to defend future cyber budget requests, for example, one cyber lobbyist told Axios.

Yes, but: Cybersecurity remains one of the few bipartisan issues left on Capitol Hill. Several bills during the current congressional session passed with bipartisan support or had bipartisan co-sponsors.

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