House set to vote on bill to overhaul Homeland Security cyber unit

House lawmakers will finally vote on legislation to overhaul the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) cybersecurity efforts this week.

The legislation, long a priority of House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas), would reorganize an office at department headquarters tasked with protecting critical infrastructure from cyber threats, elevating it into a full operational agency within the department.{mosads}

DHS officials from both the Obama and Trump administrations have pushed for a reorganization of the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), the unit that takes the lead on protecting federal networks and critical infrastructure from physical and cyber threats.

NPPD’s work has been thrust into the spotlight in recent months, as the department works to engage with state and local officials to protect election infrastructure — now designated critical infrastructure — from cyberattacks.

Elaine Duke, then-acting Homeland Security secretary, as recently as the end of November stressed the department’s engagement with Congress on the issue, saying during congressional testimony that it would “better position” the department to carry out its cybersecurity mission.

NPPD does not currently have a permanent secretary in charge of its mission.

McCaul introduced the legislation in July and it swiftly cleared his committee with bipartisan support.

A previous version introduced last Congress passed the committee but never advanced to the House floor for a vote, amid disagreements between officials and members of Congress over how the new operational agency would be organized.

The latest version of the bill would reorganize and designate NPPD as the “Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.” The new agency would be comprised of three distinct divisions to focus on cybersecurity, infrastructure security and emergency communications.

House lawmakers will vote on the bill on Monday evening, according to a weekly schedule released by the Republican majority. The legislation faces an uncertain path in the Senate, where companion legislation has not been introduced.

Tags cybersecurity Department of Homeland Security DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate Michael McCaul

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