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Senators Moving to Expedite Vote to Create DHS Cyber Agency

  • Bill would reorganize, rename department’s cyber arm
  • DHS secretary says bill needed to help counter threats

Senators are trying to expedite unanimous passage of legislation that would authorize a new Department of Homeland Security agency to combat cyber threats.

“We’re going to try to get that hotlined,” Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told Bloomberg Government. Hotlining is the process of checking with fellow senators to see if there are any objections to passing a bill by unanimous consent.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Act (H.R. 3359) would rename, reorganize, and bolster the department’s current cyber arm, known as the National Protection and Programs Directorate. The bill, sponsored in the House by Rep. Michael McCaul(R-Texas), passed the House in December.

Johnson told Bloomberg Government some language still needed to be worked out. The stand-alone bill has not been discharged, a spokesperson for the committee said.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsenhas been consistently urging Congress to pass the legislation before the current session ends in January. Nielsen said Sept. 5 the National Protection and Programs Directorate needs to be authorized into a “full-fledged operational agency.”

“DHS wasn’t built for a digital pandemic,” Nielsen said at a Washington cyber event. “We have that mission space, we’re not able to organize to meet that mission space.”

Agency status would help private companies, other governments, and the public better recognize where to report cyber attacks and vulnerabilities, she said.

Some provisions of the bill are also included in an amended version of legislation to reauthorize the Department of Homeland Security (H.R. 2825), which was approved by the Senate committee in February. The reauthorization bill passed the House in July 2017 that did not include same provisions.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michaela Ross in Washington at mross@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Paul Hendrie at phendrie@bgov.com; John R. Kirkland at jkirkland@bgov.com

The post Senators Moving to Expedite Vote to Create DHS Cyber Agency appeared first on Bloomberg Government.

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