House Passes Health Site Security Bill
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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 requires 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 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.”
“Why wouldn’t we want the public to know and be alerted right away?” Upton said.
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 seems eager to find bad news. They want to stir up phony fears that personal information is not secure on the site.”
Reps. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, Tom Cotton, R-Dardanelle, Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock and Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, voted for the bill.
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 would need to consult with states as they are cleaned up.
The bill also eliminates the government’s legal shield against state actions dealing with the decontamination of toxic waste sites.
Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, said the bill would “go a long way toward making the states partners with the EPA in cleaning up hazardous waste sites.”
Critics said the bill would weaken federal cleanup powers. The White House threatened a veto, saying it could result “in significant site cleanup delays, endangering public health and the environment.”
The vote fell mostly along party lines, with all but four Republicans for it and all but five Democrats against it.
Womack, Cotton, Griffin and Crawford voted for the bill.
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 outgoing chairman Ben Bernanke. Votes against Yellen were cast by Republicans to protest the Fed’s money management policies.
Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., voted for Yellen. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., voted against her.