The Top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee Mac Thornberry said this week that it will take until after the November elections to come up with a compromised version of the National Defense Authorization Act.
Maine Sen. Angus King, co-chair of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission (CSC), is working to make sure some of the amendments recommended by the commission make it into the final version of the bill. He said on “Government Matters” Sunday “about a dozen” of the CSC’s proposals are already in both the House and Senate versions of the bill, and the commission will work to reconcile some that are only in the House or Senate version.
The biggest proposal from the CSC is the formation of the National Cyber Director position. It is in the House bill, and there is a placeholder for it in the Senate bill. “We’re working very hard to persuade our Senate colleagues that this is an important provision,” King said.
The idea of the National Cyber Director role was recently endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as well as the Heritage Foundation, which King hopes will help. He said the CSC had a hearing before Sen. Mike Rounds and Sen. Joe Manchin of the Cybersecurity Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which he believes addressed the concerns of a majority of the committee.
In terms of what kind of person should fill the role of a National Cyber Director, King said it should be someone with management ability and a “deep familiarity” of cyber issues. The position would coordinate and generate cooperation among different agencies in the federal government, King explained. “That’s one of the problems, is nobody’s in charge – it’s a hodge podge of responsibilities and authorities … so we’re looking for someone who can … provide leadership on this incredibly important issue.”
King stressed that the National Cyber Director would not be in the chain of command (which had been a concern of Sen. Rounds). The chain of command would still be as follows: Cyber Command, Secretary of Defense, National Security Advisor, and President of the United States. “This person is not in that decision-making tree … however, they would work with [the defense-related] agencies in terms of coordination and cooperation,” King said. “We have really good silos, we have really capable people, but they’re still separated, and there’s not as much communication and coordination as there should be.”