Washington Digest: House passes health site security bill


WASHINGTON — The House voted last week to require consumers to be notified of breaches that could compromise personal data on new government health care websites.

Lawmakers voted 291-122 for the bill, with 67 Democrats joining on the Republican measure. The bill would require individuals to be informed within two days of a cyber attack that threatens personal information on any of the online health care marketplaces.

Pointing to a security breach at Target stores that resulted in a leak of private data affecting more than 70 million customers, Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., said the bill “seeks to provide peace of mind to people who have submitted personal information to the health exchanges.”

Democratic leaders called the legislation no more than the latest Republican “scare tactic” to undermine Obamacare by discouraging people to sign up for insurance.

“There have been no successful breaches of healthcare.gov,” said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif. “Republicans seem eager to find bad news. They want to stir up phony fears that personal information is not secure on the site.”

Reps. Steven Horsford and Dina Titus, both D-Nev., and Mark Amodei, R-Nev., voted for the bill. Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., did not vote.

SUPERFUND LAW OVERHAULED

The House voted 225-188 to expand the role of states in cleaning up “Superfund” hazardous waste sites.

The bill would allow states every five years to add potential sites to the cleanup list kept by the Environmental Protection Agency. States would need to approve sites added to the federal list, and EPA officials would need to consult with states as they are cleaned up.

The bill also would eliminate the government’s legal shield against state actions dealing with the decontamination of toxic waste sites.

The vote fell mostly along party lines, with all but four Republicans for it and all but five Democrats against it.

Amodei voted for the bill. Horsford and Titus voted against it. Heck did not vote.

FED CHAIRMAN CONFIRMED

The Senate voted 56-26 to confirm Janet Yellen as chairman of the Federal Reserve. The California economist, 67, became the first woman to head the central bank.

Democrats voted to endorse President Barack Obama’s nominee to succeed Ben Bernanke. Votes against Yellen were cast by Republicans to protest the Fed’s money management policies.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., voted for Yellen. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., voted against her.

Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at stetreault@stephensmedia.com or 202-783-1760. Follow him on Twitter @STetreaultDC.

 

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