Johnson Comments on Inclusion of Key Security Bills in Omnibus

WASHINGTON — Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said this Wednesday about the inclusion of S. 2362, the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act and S. 754, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) of 2015 in the 2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill:

“In my first year as chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, I have focused on the national and economic security of America. The committee’s priorities have been border security, cybersecurity, threats to our critical infrastructure, and countering violent extremism. 

“After the horrific attacks in Paris, the committee zeroed in on other U.S. vulnerabilities, holding hearings and roundtables on the Refugee Resettlement Program and the Visa Waiver Program.  The committee heard consistently that the Visa Waiver Program must be thoroughly reviewed, particularly since the known attackers in Paris were nationals of countries that are part of the program.  

“In response, I introduced and advocated for the Senate companion to H.R. 158, the Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act of 2015, which has now been included in the omnibus package we will vote on later this week. The reforms will strengthen the Visa Waiver Program and take significant steps toward preventing those who seek to cause us harm from entering our country while at the same time maintaining legitimate travel and the security benefits associated with the Visa Waiver Program partnership.”

On cybersecurity and on the inclusion of S. 754, Johnson said, “Americans’ data and critical infrastructure is under attack. Former NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander called cyberattacks the ‘greatest transfer of wealth in history,’ as foreign adversaries pillage American companies for their intellectual property and government agencies for their sensitive data on Americans. Recent cyber-thefts from the Office of Personnel Management and the Internal Revenue Service, and private companies such as Sony, Target, Anthem, and JP Morgan, have shown this is a growing trend. The biggest threat to privacy isn’t government agencies trying to keep Americans safe. It’s foreign adversaries stealing information on hundreds of millions of Americans.

“The Cybersecurity Act of 2015 is an important first step toward improving our cyber-defenses. It’s not perfect, but it’s a big step in the right direction, one that Congress has been trying to enact for several years. I’m proud to have been part of the bipartisan group, with my colleagues on the Senate and House Intelligence and the Homeland Security committees, that finally helped get this legislation passed.

“The information sharing authorization component of the bill enables private companies and the government to share information about known attackers and stop them. The federal network security component I crafted with Sen. Carper will require federal agencies to update their outdated cybersecurity, using common-sense solutions that the private sector has been using for years. This legislation protects us. It’s necessary, and it’s long overdue.”