House panel signs off on $1.8B for DHS cyber office

House panel signs off on $1.8B for DHS cyber office
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House lawmakers on Tuesday advanced a spending measure that would provide roughly $1.8 billion in funding for a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) cyber unit. 

The bill would allocate the money for the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), the DHS office tasked with securing critical infrastructure from cyber threats. 

The House Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal 2018 funding measure for the DHS by a vote of 30-22 during a markup on Tuesday. 

The allocation for NPPD is similar to fiscal 2017 spending levels and on par with the Trump administration’s request for $1.8 billion in discretionary funding for the office.

NPPD, which is charged with protecting U.S. cyber and physical infrastructure, would receive nearly $1.4 billion to help secure civilian networks, prevent cyberattacks and espionage, and help modernize emergency communications infrastructure. 

However, the bill would cut funds to the DHS’s Science and Technology Directorate by more than $100 million, reducing its budget to $638 million and putting it in line with President Trump’s budget request. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) took issue with that cut on Tuesday. 

“We are drastically cutting the important cybersecurity and research and development work that happens at the Science and Technology Directorate and shifting that money to fund a border wall,” said Ruppersberger. 

“The president may have promised a border wall, but I explicitly remember him saying Mexico would pay for it, not saying he would gut the important research and development work at the Department of Homeland Security to fund it,” he continued.

“We have to realize the cybersecurity threat to our nation and citizens and take it seriously before we have a crisis on our hands.” 

As the department’s primary research-and-development wing, the directorate manages science and technology research and works with the private sector and academics to develop advanced capabilities in cybersecurity, biological defense and other areas.

Overall, the funding bill would allocate $44 billion in discretionary funding for the DHS, an increase over fiscal 2017 levels. 

House Republicans could decide this week whether to consolidate all 12 appropriations bills needed to fund the government into one, allowing for a vote on a single massive fiscal 2018 spending bill. 

Committee Chairman Rodney FrelinghuysenRodney Procter FrelinghuysenWeek ahead in defense: Spending bill, Yemen vote top agenda Top appropriations Dem: Omnibus talks 'locked down' Spending talks face new pressure MORE (R-N.J.) singled out cyber threats at the start of the markup process Tuesday morning, saying that the funding would allow the DHS “to fulfill its mandate to secure our nation from the many threats we face, whether that’s terrorism, criminals and illegal goods crossing our borders, or attacks on our cyber networks.” 

“This legislation addresses other 21st-century threats to our nation as well, namely securing our cyber infrastructure against dangerous hacking and cyberattacks,” Frelinghuysen said. “Investments into the National Protection and Programs Directorate will enhance security of that cyberspace.”