Congress agreed to eliminate $20 million for network security programs in the major bill to keep the government operating through March 18, as the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-led Senate began negotiations on further cuts for the rest of the fiscal year ending in September.
The short-term continuing resolution signed into law on Wednesday will trim the Homeland Security Department account that safeguards critical networks and facilities far less than the $60 million cut House appropriators had proposed last month. The stopgap bill deleted earmarks — monies requested by individual lawmakers — for the DHS infrastructure protection and information security program. The dropped funding had not been allocated for specific projects yet, House aides said.
“Part of Congress’ challenge is that a lot of programs and projects get labeled cybersecurity in order to secure funding,” said Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, who oversees coordination of cyber legislation across House committees, in defending the cuts. “Our job is to sort through what is really necessary and try to see that the money that is spent is spent wisely. More money does not automatically mean more security.”
Senate aides are still analyzing the effect of the cutbacks. Aides to House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King, R-N.Y., did not respond to requests for comment.