Underwood takes over as chair of House cybersecurity panel

Underwood takes over as chair of House cybersecurity panel
© Stefani Reynolds

The House Homeland Security Committee announced Friday that Rep. Lauren UnderwoodLauren UnderwoodOvernight Hillicon Valley — Hacking goes global Report pushes for changes to diversify 'homogeneous' US cybersecurity workforce Biden's midterm strategies start to come into focus MORE (D-Ill.) will take over as chair of the panel’s subcommittee on cybersecurity, infrastructure protection and innovation. 

Underwood, who serves as vice chair of the full Homeland Security panel, will take over the subcommittee chair position from Rep. Cedric RichmondCedric RichmondThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Questions on Biden agenda; unemployment benefits to end Sunday shows - Biden domestic agenda, Texas abortion law dominate Biden adviser: 'Full steam ahead' on .5T package despite Manchin warning MORE (D-La.).

Richmond stepped down from the Homeland Security panel earlier this week to take a position on the House Ways and Means Committee, filling a position previously held by the late Rep. John LewisJohn LewisHarris, CBC put weight behind activist-led National Black Voter Day Budowsky: High stakes drama for Biden, Manchin, Sinema Stacey Abrams backs Senate Democrats' voting rights compromise MORE (D-Ga.).

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The cybersecurity subpanel has in the past addressed issues around election security, state and local cybersecurity needs, bolstering the cybersecurity workforce and oversight of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Science and Technology Directorate.

Underwood said in a statement Friday that she was “honored to step into this leadership role to secure our cyber and physical infrastructure in a way that reflects American values.”

“Our nation faces homeland security threats that endanger not only the lives of Americans, but the foundation of the democracy we hold dear,” Underwood said. “As Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Innovation, I look forward to advancing legislation that makes us safer—whether that means securing our elections against foreign interference and cyberattacks, or protecting our schools and houses of worship from targeted violence—and conducting oversight of the Administration to ensure the job gets done.”

She emphasized that “with the 2020 election currently underway across Illinois and the country, this committee's work is more critical than ever before.”

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonJan. 6 committee taps former Bush administration official as top lawyer Overnight Defense & National Security: US-Australian sub deal causes rift with France Jan. 6 panel says it is reviewing Milley actions MORE (D-Miss.) welcomed Underwood to the role.

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“From persistent attempts by foreign adversaries to influence our elections to growing cybersecurity threats amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, our country faces unprecedented threats and it is critical we have the leadership in place to tackle these growing challenges,” Thompson said in a statement. 

“It is my incredible honor to have Congresswoman Underwood serve as Chair of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Innovation,” he added. “She has served admirably as the Vice Chair of the Committee and I know she is ready to confront the multifaceted issues facing our nation. I look forward to continuing our work together to secure our elections, protect our homeland, and conduct critical oversight of this Administration.” 

Rep. John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoEmboldened Trump takes aim at GOP foes McCarthy-allied fundraising group helps Republicans who voted to impeach Trump Bipartisan House group introduces legislation to set term limit for key cyber leader MORE (R-N.Y.), the ranking member on the cybersecurity subcommittee, also applauded Underwood taking over as chair.

"I congratulate Congresswoman Underwood on her new role as Chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Innovation," Katko said in a statement provided to The Hill. "We’ve worked together on a number of bipartisan initiatives, and am looking forward to continuing this partnership as we work to protect our nation against the ongoing threat of cyberattacks. I thank Chairman Richmond for his service on the Subcommittee and strong commitment to protecting our Homeland."

Underwood has previously co-sponsored legislation to bolster state and local cybersecurity, a bill intended to increase media literacy to combat social media disinformation and multiple bills addressing election security concerns.

— Updated at 2:40 p.m.