The Senate passed by unanimous consent a key measure backed by Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Ranking Member Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) to boost cybersecurity coordination efforts at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The measure was strongly endorsed by DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
“When it comes to cybersecurity, we need an all hands on deck approach that includes Congress, the Administration, state and local governments, and the private sector,” said McCaskill, who also serves on the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Cybersecurity. “This much needed measure breaks down another barrier to cybersecurity coordination by renaming and reorganizing the cyber division in the Department of Homeland Security so it can operate efficiently and effectively to secure our systems.”
“I’m proud that my Republican colleagues, the administration, and I were able to find common ground and advance this proposal,” she said.
Under the current system, when state and local governments or private-sector actors need assistance with cybersecurity or infrastructure security from DHS, they should contact the National Protection and Programs Directorate for help. The new measure would rename the directorate the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), making clear that CISA is responsible for election security, cybersecurity, and critical infrastructure assistance, intended to improve the agency’s ability to conduct outreach to stakeholders. The proposal would also reorganize the office to better position it to address these emerging threats.
Now that the bill has been approved by the Senate, it heads to the House of Representatives for a vote before going to the president’s desk.