House, Senate Committees Begin Task on Creating “Operational,” DHS Cyber Unit

May 10, 2017–Discussions are underway between the Democrat and Republican staffs of the House and Senate homeland security committees on ways to turn the Department of Homeland Security’s National Protection and Programs Directorate into an “operational” unit focused on cybersecurity and infrastructure protection, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) said today. “I’m excited that our bipartisan and bicameral staffs are discussing legislation that aims to appropriately elevate and operationalize DHS’s cyber mission,” said Sen. McCaskill, ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, has said that restructuring NPPD to focus on cybersecurity and infrastructure protection is one of his top priorities this year.  A bill to accomplish that, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Agency Act (HR 5390), cleared the committee on a bipartisan vote last year but did not reach the House floor.

Rep. McCaul has resurrected the bill and recently indicated that he had received positive feedback on the legislation from the Trump administration (TR Daily, April 27). Sen. McCaskill did not comment on the specifics of Rep. McCaul’s legislation, but indicated she supported its aims.  “Despite the significant role the department plays in the nation’s cybersecurity efforts, cyber appears to be a secondary function within DHS,” she said.  “That needs to change.” —Tom Leithauser, tom.leithauser@wolterskluwer.com