Bipartisan Members and Experts Agree that H.R. 7331, the National Cyber Director Act, is Essential to Protecting National Security

Jul 15, 2020
Press Release
Twitter Hack Following Hearing Demonstrates Need for Robust Cybersecurity

Washington, D.C. (July 15, 2020)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee of Oversight and Reform, held a hearing to examine U.S. cybersecurity preparedness and the bipartisan H.R. 7331, the National Cyber Director Act, which would create the position of a National Cyber Director to lead national-level coordination of cyber strategy and policy.  

 

Only hours after the hearing, the Twitter accounts of many high-profile public figures were hacked to spread a cryptocurrency scam, exemplifying the urgent threat of cyberattacks.

 

“A challenge as complex and pervasive as cybersecurity requires that our government be strategic, organized, and ready,” said Chairwoman Maloney in her opening statement for today’s hearing.  “How can we exercise smart, decisive foresight to the best of our ability today to ensure we are a nation prepared tomorrow?”

 

Democratic and Republican Members and witnesses agreed that cyberattacks are a critical, complex, prevalent, and growing threat to the nation’s safety and economic security—a threat that is intensifying due to the coronavirus crisis.

 

Witnesses endorsed H.R. 7331, the National Cyber Director Act, as a crucial step to ensure that the federal government is fully prepared for and coordinated in their response to cyberattacks.

 

At the hearing, the Committee heard testimony from Rep. James R. Langevin,  Commissioner of the U.S. Cyberspace Solarium Commission; Rep. Mike Gallagher, Co-Chair of the U.S. Cyberspace Solarium Commission; former Rep. Michael J. Rogers, Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (2011-2015); J. Michael Daniel, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Cyber Threat Alliance and the former White House Cybersecurity Coordinator (2012-2017); Amit Yoran, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Tenable and Founding Director of the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) (2003-2004); Suzanne Spaulding, Commissioner of the U.S. Cyberspace Solarium Commission and Senior Adviser for Homeland Security at the Center for Strategic & International Studies; and Jamil N. Jaffer, Founder and Executive Director of the National Security Institute at George Mason University.

 

Witnesses described cyberattacks as a silent war that touches nearly every aspect of our lives.

 

  • Mr. Jaffer testified that China’s cyber warfare drains private companies of billions of dollars a year, and warned, “It is no overstatement to say that, for all practical intents and purposes, we are at war in cyberspace.  And, unfortunately, as a nation we still remain woefully underprepared to deal with this ongoing and serious conflict.”
  • Mr. Yoran reported that 90 percent of critical infrastructure operators surveyed in 2019 had witnessed at least one damaging cyberattack in the past two years.  He testified:  “From our cities to the electric grid and transportation relying on connected devices and networks, the risk is more than a technical one.  It is political.  It is social.  It is economic.  It is physical.  Cybersecurity risk is an existential threat to our democracy.”

 

Witnesses and Committee Members emphasized that a centralized cybersecurity position at the White House is the best option for developing and streamlining the federal government’s strategy, coordination, and response to cyberthreats. 

 

  • Representing the U.S. Cyberspace Solarium Commission, Congressman Langevin, Congressman Gallagher, and Ms. Spaulding explained the months of thoughtful bipartisan dialogue between cybersecurity leaders that informed the proposal for a National Cyber Director in H.R. 7331.  She testified:  “The National Cyber Director needs to help empower, prioritize, and provide much-needed support for existing cyber entities within the US government.”
  • Mr. Daniel stated:  “We know from experience in other areas where uncertainty is high and effects are systemic, including natural disasters and pandemics, [that] centralized leadership is critical to effective crisis management.”

 

Democrats and Republicans agreed that H.R. 7331 and a National Cyber Director would help ensure that we are fully prepared for, and coordinated in, our response to cyberattacks.

 

  • Chairman Rogers testified:  “The National Cyber Director, with its coordination, budgetary, and convening powers, would prove to be an invaluable tool for this and future presidents.”
  • Congressman Gallagher testified:  “The creation of a single focal point in the White House [is] the least bureaucratic, the least onerous, and the most efficient of all possible options.”
  • Congressman Langevin testified:  “It’s time we seize the initiative.  It’s time we set the agenda, pushing back on our competitors and shaping their behavior by improving our resilience and strengthening the cyber ecosystem.  It’s time we empower a National Cyber Director in the White House.”
116th Congress