Senate Passes McCaskill-backed Bipartisan Proposal to Strengthen Cybersecurity Coordination Efforts

Senator’s work has support of Republican colleagues, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen

WASHINGTON – The Senate passed a key measure backed by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, that would boost cybersecurity coordination efforts at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). She worked with Republican Committee Chairman Ron Johnson on the proposal, and the measure is strongly endorsed by DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

“When it comes to cybersecurity, we need an all hands on deck approach that includes Congress, the Administration, state and local governments, and the private sector,” said McCaskill, who also serves on the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Cybersecurity. “This much needed measure breaks down another barrier to cybersecurity coordination by renaming and reorganizing the cyber division in the Department of Homeland Security so it can operate efficiently and effectively to secure our systems. I’m proud that my Republican colleagues, the Administration, and I were able to find common ground and advance this proposal that will help keep Missourians safe.”

Under the current system, when state and local governments or private sector actors need assistance with cybersecurity or infrastructure security from DHS, they should contact the non-descriptively named National Protection and Programs Directorate for help. The new McCaskill-backed measure would rename the directorate the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), making clear that CISA is responsible for election security, cybersecurity, and critical infrastructure assistance, which will improve the agency’s ability to conduct outreach to stakeholders. The proposal would also reorganize the office to better position it to address these emerging threats.

Now that the bill has been approved by the Senate, it heads to the House of Representatives for a vote before going to the President’s desk.

McCaskill has long supported Congressional action to address the nation’s vulnerability to 21st century national security threats both at home and abroad. Last week, her bipartisan bill to safeguard against supply chain security threats advanced in the Senate. In August, a McCaskill-backed bill that addresses cybersecurity threats to small businesses was signed into law by President Trump. In June, she voted to confirm the Administration’s pick for the top cybersecurity official at the Department of Homeland Security. The Senate approved a McCaskill-backed bill in April to strengthen cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security.

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