Cybersecurity

Senate confirms Chris Inglis as first White House cyber czar

Nominee for National Cyber Director Chris Inglis
Greg Nash

The Senate on Thursday unanimously confirmed former National Security Agency (NSA) Deputy Director Chris Inglis as the first White House national cyber director.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) brought up Inglis’s nomination for a vote through unanimous consent Thursday afternoon, with no senators objecting.

Inglis will be the first to serve as the White House cyber czar after the position was created as part of the most recent National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It is an expansion of the previous White House cybersecurity coordinator role that was eliminated in 2018 under the Trump administration, drawing bipartisan backlash at the time. 

The confirmation came the day after the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee unanimously approved Inglis’s nomination for the position, which came days after he sailed through his confirmation hearing with near uniform bipartisan support.

“It will not stop of its own accord, it is not a fire raging across the prairie that once it’s consumed the fuel it will simply stop and we can simply wait for that moment, we must stand in,” Inglis testified during the nomination hearing, discussing cyber threats. “It will never go away completely, but we can bring it down, we can bring it to heel significantly.”

Inglis will be tasked with coordinating federal cybersecurity policy and will be the key federal leader tying together agencies, being a point of contact between Congress and the White House.

President Biden, who signed an executive order last month to strengthen federal cybersecurity, called on the Senate last month to vote on both Inglis’s nomination and that of Jen Easterly to be director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). 

“I think it’s becoming clear to everyone that we have to do more than is being done now, and the federal government can be significant value-added in having that happen,” Biden said during a White House speech. 

Timing for a vote on Easterly’s nomination remains unclear following a block placed on it Thursday by Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) until Biden visits the U.S.-Mexico border to address migration concerns. 

A White House spokesperson did not immediately respond to The Hill’s Thursday request for comment on Inglis’s confirmation. 

The creation of the national cyber director position was a key recommendation by the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, a group established by Congress in 2018 to create recommendations to protect the U.S. from cyber threats.

Commission co-chair Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) told reporters earlier this month that the Senate was working to fund the position and its office, which can have up to 75 employees, as part of a supplemental appropriations bill this year. 

“I suspect that they can certainly find a way to pay his salary, but whether or not you are going to be able to develop a staff, that is certainly the next step,” King told reporters.

Biden proposed $15 million for the national cyber director office in his proposed budget, but this has not yet been approved by Congress. 

Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), a member of the Commission and a lawmaker who has championed the creation of the position for the past decade, celebrated the confirmation Thursday.

“After 11 long years, I’m thrilled the U.S. finally has a Senate-confirmed National Cyber Director in the White House,” Langevin tweeted. “Congratulations, Chris! You certainly will have your hands full, but there’s no one better suited for this job than you. America is rooting for you!”

Tags Angus King Charles Schumer Chris Inglis Chuck Schumer cybersecurity Jim Langevin Joe Biden

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