Jessica Mathews /

A bill sponsored by Livingston County's Congresswoman to strengthen communications security has cleared committee with strong bi-partisan support.

The Communications Security Act, led by 7th District U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin, was approved by the House Committee on Energy & Commerce with bi-partisan support.

The bill would permanently authorize the Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) - which brings together industry, government, and civil society experts - to advise the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on communications security issues.

The bill is co-led by Representative Tim Walberg (MI-05), and its Senate companion in the 117th Congress was led by Senator Gary Peters (D-MI). It passed the House in October 2021 with strong bipartisan support, and passed again as part of the America COMPETES Act.

Slotkin said “As we confront all kinds of threats to our infrastructure, it’s never been more important to keep our critical communications – like 911 calls and law enforcement communications — secure. This bill is an important step towards that goal, and I’m pleased to see it move out of committee and on to a vote on the House floor. When crisis struck last month at Michigan State, our 911 network and law enforcement communications were vital to both the personnel that used them and the community that listened in. That swift communication saved lives that day, and we can keep these systems secure by passing this bill and getting the FCC the expertise it needs.”

Walberg commented "As we increase our reliance on communications networks, we must ensure they are reliable, safe, and secure. Threats to our networks and thereby our public safety have skyrocketed in recent years, and we must be prepared as a nation to combat these ever-changing challenges. Our bipartisan legislation will codify CSRIC to bring together the best minds and help create a safer digital environment. With its passage from the Communications & Technology Subcommittee, we’re one step closer to our ultimate goal of enshrining the bill into law”.

Peters stated “We must protect our communications networks and critical infrastructure against evolving threats. Our ability to communicate – especially in the event of emergencies – is essential and we must do all we can to prevent disruptions to our networks like cyber or terror attacks. I’m proud to support this bipartisan legislation to strengthen and secure our communications networks.”

The CSRIC has existed in various forms for nearly three decades as an advisory body chartered by the FCC Chair, and is charged with informing FCC policy in key areas – from communications infrastructure, to 911 and other alert systems for first responders, to communications supply chain vulnerabilities. The Communications Security Act of 2023 would permanently authorize the Council’s work in federal statute.

The bill is now under consideration by the full House.