Congress on Friday passed legislation to fight cyber threats, pushing the measure through by tucking it into a sprawling government funding bill, after earlier failed attempts.
The measure was inserted into the massive $1.1 trillion spending package that funds the government through next September, tightens visa requirements, and ends a longstanding oil export ban, among other moves.
The so-called “omnibus” funding bill, which easily passed in the Senate, also in the process gave congressional approval to the landmark Cybersecurity Act.
The measure was approved with blessings from the White House, over objections of privacy activists.
Officials with the House Homeland Security Committee said in a statement that the bill would protect America’s private sector and federal networks “which are under continuous threat from foreign hackers and cyber terrorists.”
Separate versions of the bill were approved earlier this year by the Senate and House of Representatives.
Passage of the measure “ensures our federal cyber networks are able to defend against nation-states like China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea and terrorist threats,” said Congressman Michael McCaul, chairman of the homeland security panel.
“This streamlines the federal government’s ability to more effectively identify and thwart cyber-attacks,” he said.
President Barack Obama would get a victory with the approval after several years of seeking legislation to boost cybersecurity. Previous efforts were bogged down by opposition from activists who feared it would result in excessive government intrusion, and conservatives who argue it would create a new bureaucracy.
Obama welcomed the measure, a senior US…