Dems introduce bill to save top cyber role at White House

Dems introduce bill to save top cyber role at White House

A pair of Democratic lawmakers are introducing a bill that would save the top cybersecurity role at the White House after the Trump administration announced Tuesday it plans to eliminate the position.

The bill, introduced by Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Jim LangevinJames (Jim) R. LangevinHouse panel approves bill to codify key cybersecurity program at DHS Hillicon Valley: New fears over Chinese espionage | T-Mobile, Sprint execs to testify on B merger | Cyber firm denies hacking back on China | Salesforce workers criticize border patrol contract New fears over Chinese espionage grip Washington MORE (D-R.I.) on Tuesday evening, would establish a high-level cyber advisory position within the Executive Office of the President.

The move comes after a National Security Council (NSC) official confirmed to The Hill that the administration decided to eliminate the position of cybersecurity coordinator.

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Politico, which first reported the decision Tuesday, said the move was part of an effort to “streamline authority” for senior directors who lead teams within the NSC.

“The National Security Council’s cyber office already has two very capable Senior Directors. Moving forward, these Senior Directors will coordinate cyber matters and policy. As they sit six feet apart from one another, they will be able to coordinate in real time," Robert Palladino, a spokesman for the NSC, said in a statement.

"Today’s actions continue an effort to empower National Security Council Senior Directors. Streamlining management will improve efficiency, reduce bureaucracy and increase accountability,” Palladino said. 

Lieu called the decision “outrageous, especially given that we’re facing more hostile threats from foreign adversaries than ever before.”

“This move impedes our country’s strategic efforts to counter cybersecurity threats against our country," Lieu said. “Fortunately, our bill will fill in those holes in government cybersecurity oversight by creating a National Office for Cyberspace in the White House.”

“It is an enormous step backwards to deemphasize the importance of this growing domain within the White House,” Langevin added in a statement Tuesday.

It remains to be seen if their bill will garner any Republican support.

The cyber coordinator position, established under the Obama administration, was most recently held by Rob Joyce, a former National Security Agency (NSA) official widely respected by current and former officials for his breadth of expertise in cybersecurity.

In his role, Joyce had a direct line to President TrumpDonald John TrumpArizona GOP Senate candidate defends bus tour with far-right activist Alyssa Milano protests Kavanaugh in 'Handmaid's Tale' costume Bomb in deadly Yemen school bus attack was manufactured by US firm: report MORE and was a major force coordinating cyber policy across the federal government.

Joyce, who was on detail from the NSA to the Trump White House, disclosed last month that he was returning to the agency rather than continuing his duties in the White House role.