This was a vote on a resolution outlining the rules for floor debate on legislation to reauthorize National Science Foundation "cybersecurity" programs -- that is, programs designed to guard against unauthorized access to computers and networks. In addition, the bill would require the National Institute of Standards and Technology to establish standards for managing personal information saved on computers.
Rep. Michael Arcuri (D-NY) urged a vote in favor of the resolution, and argued the bill would strengthen safeguards against threats to the security of the nation's computer systems: "Cyberthreats and attacks are real, and they threaten our financial and defense networks every day. Nearly every aspect of everyday life in our global society is dependent on the security of our cyber networks. We rely on these systems to carry virtually all our business transactions, control our electric grid, emergency communication systems, and traffic lights. The Cybersecurity Enhancement Act reauthorizes and expands the programs aimed at strengthening the Nation's cybersecurity, including a new scholarship program to train the thousands of cybersecurity professionals that are needed to defend our Nation….H.R. 4061 requires NIST to undertake research and development programs to improve identity management systems, which include health information technology systems, in order to improve interoperability, authentication methods, privacy protection, and usability of these systems. These systems hold great potential for streamlining the delivery of services and care to individuals, but they must be secure in order to function properly and efficiently. This legislation will ensure that they are."
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) criticized the resolution for limiting the number of amendments Republicans could offer, and contended the bill was fiscally irresponsible: "While the bill before us today authorizes several important programs, it also authorizes ``such sums as may be necessary for activities to improve cybersecurity.'' When American families are facing tough economic challenges, Congress should be tightening its own belt and setting funding limits rather than authorizing blank checks on the backs of the American taxpayers. We can do better than this, and we owe it to the American people to do better than this. This bill also provides for annual increases in authorization levels. At a time of record budget deficits, it is crucial that we hold the line on spending. The Obama administration likes to talk about fiscal restraint, but we have yet to see those words put into action. In fact, talk of fiscal restraint is nothing but talk. This bill is a classic example of legislation that could be trimmed back by keeping the authorization levels static rather than increasing them each year. But the Democrats refuse to allow such restraint and instead continue to govern as though they are not aware of the fact that our Federal deficit is growing each day. Perhaps they are not aware. So many have been in Washington for so long that they are out of touch with average citizens and the common sense that our citizens represent."
The House agreed to the resolution by a vote of 237-176. 237 Democrats voted "yea." All 169 Republicans present and 7 Democrats voted "nay." As a result, the House proceeded to floor debate on legislation to reauthorize National Science Foundation programs designed to guard against unauthorized access to computers and networks.