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Mr. McCAUL. Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank my fellow Texan and friend, Chairman Smith, for his support, Ranking Member Johnson, and Dan Lipinski, my cohort on this bill. We passed this in two prior Congresses, and this is our third attempt. Let's hope the third time will be a charm.
For most of us around the country, it is hard to think of anything else other than the terrorist attack in Boston yesterday. It is a solemn reminder of the threats that we face. While the attention of the American people is focused on the physical attack that occurred during the Boston Marathon, I think it is important that we as leader in this Chamber be frank with the American people about the virtual threat of a cyber attack against our national and economic security interests. We must be vigilant against both.
The United States faces several daunting challenges at this moment in history, including emerging threats that we must as a Nation be prepared to face head on. Congress is often blamed for not rising to the occasion by being too reactive to events or failing to act at all. I'm determined, as my colleagues are, that this Congress tackle head on the problem of our vulnerable cyber defenses and bolster our security in cyberspace.
Last month our country's top intelligence officials told Congress that the U.S. is vulnerable to cyber espionage, cyber crime, and outright destruction of computer networks, both from sophisticated government-sponsored assaults from countries like China and Iran, as well as criminal hacker groups and cyber terrorists. We know that foreign nations are conducting reconnaissance on our critical infrastructures and utilities, including our gas lines and water systems and energy grids. If the ability to send a silent attack through our digital networks falls into our enemies' hands, this country could be the victim of a devastating attack. Last December, Iran attacked the state-owned Saudi Aramco with the goal of stopping Saudi Arabia's oil production. Additionally, this year Iran conducted multiple denial of service attacks on major U.S. banks. And just last year, an al Qaeda operative issued a call for electronic jihad against the United States, comparing our technological vulnerabilities to that of our security before 9/11.
Yet while these threats are imminent, no major cybersecurity legislation that would help protect us has been enacted since 2002. Quite simply, we are not prepared to meet the threats of the 21st century.
This act improves coordination in government, providing for a strategic plan to assess the cybersecurity risk and guide the overall direction of Federal cyber R&D. It updates the National Institutes of Standards and Technology's responsibilities to develop security standards for Federal computer systems to ensure computer hygiene and processes for agencies to follow.
Our bill also establishes a Federal-university-private-sector task force to coordinate research and development, improves training of cyber professionals, and continues the much-needed cybersecurity research and development programs at the National Science Foundation and NIST.
This bill has been endorsed, as the chairman stated, by leading industry groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Tech America. Most importantly, this bill is fiscally responsible. It is not being paid for with any new money since it is intended to work within the boundaries of funds authorized and appropriated to NSF and NIST. I'm confident that this legislation will advance the work these agencies are doing to bolster our domestic cybersecurity, as much as I'm confident that this Congress will finally address in a meaningful way the urgent need to pass this bipartisan cybersecurity legislation at that time. So I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.
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