House panel advances DHS cyber reorganization bill

House panel advances DHS cyber reorganization bill
© Greg Nash

A key House panel has advanced legislation that would satisfy a years-long push to reorganize the Department of Homeland Security’s main cybersecurity wing.

The bill, introduced by Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) with bipartisan support, passed the committee at a markup Wednesday morning. 

The legislation would replace the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), which currently handles cyber and physical infrastructure protection at DHS, with a new, operational agency called the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. 

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The agency would have three divisions focused on cybersecurity, infrastructure security and emergency communications. McCaul said the legislation would allow DHS to better carry out its cyber mission and protect federal and civilian networks.

“This realignment of NPPD’s structure will allow it to become more streamlined and effective in carrying out existing authorities while achieving the department’s goal of creating a stand-alone operational organization focusing on and elevating the vital cybersecurity and infrastructure security missions,” McCaul said.

The committee passed similar legislation last Congress, but it never received a vote by the full House. McCaul has been engaging with DHS under the new Trump administration on the legislation since earlier this year. 

The bill will now advance to the full House for a vote, with no members of the committee expressing opposition to the legislation and no amendments offered.

Ranking member Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) signaled support for the legislation, saying, “It’s something that actually, quite frankly, we should have done some time ago — but we’re there.”

“Enactment of this measure, which includes considerable input from DHS, will ensure that the department is organized in a manner to effectively carry out both its cyber and infrastructure missions,” Thompson said Wednesday. “It appears that all the stakeholders have lined up in agreement and we move forward.”