With President Biden’s legislative agenda currently up in the air, Reps. Doris Matsui, D-Ca., and Jim Langevin, D-R.I., are looking to get $20 million in K-12 cybersecurity funding added into the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill to help combat the rise of cyberattacks on schools.
The pair of legislators – along with Reps. Deborah Ross, D-N.C.; Tony Cárdenas, D-Ca.; Anna Eshoo, D-Ca.; and Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md. – wrote a letter to the leadership of both chambers on Sept. 27 to make their case.
“While cyber-attacks on pipelines and meat processing plants have garnered national media attention, an equally severe threat has gone relatively unnoticed: cyber incidents targeting America’s K-12 schools,” the legislators wrote. “Resource-constrained K-12 schools are struggling to keep up with the increasing frequency and severity of cyber threats, and our students and educators may pay the price. As students enter a new school year, we urge you to include additional K-12 cybersecurity support in legislation to execute President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda.”
Matsui and Langevin had previously pressed Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to focus on K-12 cybersecurity; the legislators are now looking to buff up K-12 cybersecurity through the reconciliation process.
Matsui and Langevin are co-authors of the Enhancing K-12 Cybersecurity Act, a bill that has made it out of committee in the House and has had its partner legislation passed in the Senate. The letter also sites a dramatic uptick in cyberattacks on education facilities in 2020, as the K-12 Cybersecurity Resource Center cited more than 400 successful attacks on schools nationwide.
The bill would create a cybersecurity information exchange for schools to share information about emerging cyber threats and cyber grants available to schools, establish a cybersecurity incident registry, and create a K-12 Cybersecurity Technology Improvement program to allow the Federal government to work with partners to provide year-round cybersecurity tech and protection for K-12 schools.
“As families across the country begin a new school year, they will face many challenges. With an emergent Delta variant causing severe uncertainty, Congress should not let cybersecurity be a reason for further disruption,” the letter concluded.