NPPD reorg bill moves on to full House

A bill that would restructure the Department of Homeland Security's cyber and infrastructure protection operations passed out of committee with ease.

Legislation that would bring the Department of Homeland Security's cyber and critical infrastructure protection operations closer together easily won approval by a key congressional committee on July 26.

Draft bill H.R. 3359, introduced July 24 by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas), seeks to replace the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) at DHS with a new Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

The bill was reported out of the committee on a voice vote with no amendments and strong bipartisan support.

"We should have done this some time ago," Ranking Member Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said during a markup session of DHS bills that included the legislation.

"This realignment of NPPD's structure will allow it to become more streamlined and effective in carrying out existing authorities while achieving the department's goal of creating a stand-alone operational organization focusing on and elevating the vital cybersecurity and infrastructure security missions," McCaul said during the markup session.

He has been pushing the legislation for months after a similar measure failed to progress in the last Congress. He said in March that he intended to introduce an NPPD reorganization bill with markup by the end of spring.

Top managers at NPPD have long been advocating a closer connection between cybersecurity and critical infrastructure efforts at DHS. Former NPPD Undersecretary Suzanne Spaulding and former DHS Assistant Secretary of Cybersecurity and Communications Andy Ozment began pushing for the move over a year ago.

The bill would establish a new subagency, led by a director instead of an undersecretary, who would report to DHS Secretary John Kelly.

McCaul said the bill would also establish three divisions within the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency -- covering cybersecurity, infrastructure and emergency communications.

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