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Biden's COVID-19 proposal includes billions for cybersecurity

As part of his sweeping $1.9 trillion COVID-19 rescue package proposal, President-elect Joe Biden would like to set aside billions of dollars to bolster U.S. cybersecurity.

Biden's American Rescue Plan calls for a $9 billion investment to help the U.S. launch major new IT and cybersecurity shared services at the Cyber Security and Information Security Agency and the General Services Administration. The investment would also go toward helping complete modernization projects at federal agencies.

Biden would also like to put $200 million toward increased cybersecurity technology and engineering expert hiring. He would like $300 million invested in no-year funding for Technology Transformation Services in the General Services Administration to drive secure IT projects forward without the need for reimbursement from agencies.

An additional $690 million for the Cyber Security and Information Security Agency would go toward improving cybersecurity across federal civilian networks and supporting the piloting of new shared security and cloud computing services.

Biden's focus on cybersecurity comes after a massive breach of network software firm SolarWinds Corp.'s system. As many as 18,000 of SolarWinds' customers were exposed to a software vulnerability in its Orion products that allowed hackers to breach the systems of U.S. agencies such as the Justice Department and companies including Microsoft Corp.

Microsoft President Brad Smith recently called the breach "a massive indiscriminate global assault on the technology supply chain" and "a danger that the world cannot afford."

Biden's plan describes the proposed cybersecurity funding as "the most ambitious effort ever to modernize and secure federal IT and networks," adding that the money would help "remediate the SolarWinds breach and boost U.S. defenses, including of the COVID-19 vaccine process."

Beyond funding for cybersecurity, the president-elect's proposed emergency legislative package includes $1,400 per-person relief checks for working families, amounting to relief payments of $2,000 per individual when combined with the $600 approved last month. The proposal would also raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, increase the supplemental unemployment benefit to $400 a week from $300, and extend the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures to the end of September, among other items.