TR Daily Senate Commerce Approves Spectrum IT, Cyber Challenge Bills
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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Senate Commerce Approves Spectrum IT, Cyber Challenge Bills

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee today approved eight bills, including measures aimed at advancing cybersecurity and updating the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s spectrum IT (information technology) systems; seven nominations; and some Coast Guard promotions.

Among the approved nominations are those of Chase Johnson, an attorney at Covington & Burling LLP who also serves as a major and military judge in the Marine Corps Reserves, to be inspector general of the FCC and of Diana Furchtgott-Roth and Finch Fulton to be assistant secretaries of Transportation. Ms. Furchtgott-Roth is currently deputy assistant secretary–research and technology. Mr. Fulton was a member of President Trump’s transition team focusing on transportation and infrastructure policy and has been a special adviser on transportation policy to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

The vote on Ms. Furchtgott-Roth’s nomination was a 14-12 party line vote.

Mr. Johnson’s and Mr. Fulton’s nominations were approved by voice vote, although Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) and Tammy Baldwin (D., Wis.) asked to be recorded as no votes.

In his opening remarks, committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R., Miss.) said that he was “so proud of the bipartisan work that has gone into” the Spectrum IT Modernization Act (S 3717), which he co-sponsored with committee ranking minority member Maria Cantwell (D., Wash.), “and the months of work with our Armed Services Committee counterparts .”

The committee approved by voice vote without amendment the bipartisan bill, which would require NTIA to submit to Congress a plan for modernizing its IT systems.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.) said she has reservations about a compromise embodied in the bill which “directs the NTIA to study how to give the Department of Defense access to spectrum that is held by other federal agencies. … If DoD gains access to bands used by other federal agencies, it will become more difficult to clear these bands for commercial use.”

Sen. Black She called for viewing spectrum needed for 5G as part of “the arsenal of democracy,” evoking language from the World War II era. She suggested that “we have a revisit and that we consider this approach and that we think long and hard about giving DoD the ability to control spectrum that is used by other federal agencies.”

The committee also approved by voice vote an amended version of the Cybersecurity Competitions to Yield Better Efforts to Research the Latest Exceptionally Advanced Problems (CYBER LEAP) Act (S 3712), which was sponsored by Chairman Wicker and Sens. Cory Gardner (R., Colo.) and Jacky Rosen (D., Nev.).

The bill would direct the Commerce Department to conduct “national security grand challenges” in the following areas: economics of a cyber attack; cyber training; emerging technology, including next generation communications technology; and reimagining digital identity; federal agency resilience. Amendments proposed by Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah) and approved by the committee eliminated a provision authorizing the secretary of Commerce to add challenges in other areas and added a provision prohibiting the secretary from compensating members of an advisory council other than for travel expenses.

The committee also approved by voice vote an amended version of the Identifying Outputs of Generative Adversarial Networks (IOGAN) Act (S. 2904), which was sponsored by Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (D., Nev.) and Jerry Moran (R., Kan.). It would direct the National Science Foundation to support research on deepfakes and other comparable techniques that may be developed in the future. —Lynn Stanton, [email protected]

MainStory: FederalNews Congress FCC NTIA SpectrumAllocation Cybersecurity

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