Dems file amendment to keep State's cyber office

Dems file amendment to keep State's cyber office
© Keren Carrion

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) introduced an amendment Wednesday to ensure that the State Department's Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues would stay open despite rumors Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonTrump sends nomination for Russia ambassador to Senate Democrats eye Pompeo testimony On The Money: IMF estimates US-China trade war to shave 0.8 percent from global economy | NY prosecutors urge appeals court not to block Trump tax subpoena | Turkish bank linked to Giuliani client charged with fraud, money laundering MORE plans to eliminate it. 

Dingell's amendment adds to the Department of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, and it would block Tillerson from using funds allocated to the State Department to close, consolidate or demote the Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues (typically abbreviated S/CCI). It would also prevent the State Department from rerouting funds earmarked for cyber activities to other agencies. 

Since State's top cyber diplomat, Christopher Painter, stepped down last month, rumors have circulated that Tillerson planned to eliminate the cyber office and reassign its duties to the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs.

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Critics, including Democrats who sent a letter last month asking Tillerson to maintain the cyber office, argue that with the rise of digital threats, Tillerson needs a cybersecurity-focused staff with a direct line to his office. 

Former Obama administration Cyber Czar Michael Daniel told The Hill last month that cybersecurity is an issue "that crosses multiple desks at the State Department."

"It's not just an economic problem," said Daniel, who currently serves as president of the security industry information sharing group the Cyber Threat Alliance.

The amendment is cosponsored by Democratic Reps. Jacky Rosen (Nev.), Kathleen Rice (N.Y.), Ted Lieu (Calif.), Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHouse Republicans 'demand the release of the rules' on impeachment Kasich says he'd back impeachment The Hill's 12:30 Report: White House does damage control after Mulvaney remarks MORE (Calif.) and Bennie Thompson (Miss.).