The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee has decided to hold off on introducing a bill that would reorganize cyber security operations conducted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to see how an authorization bill for most of the department fares in the House, a committee member said on Wednesday.

If the authorization bill, which the committee marked up last week, can pass the House, that will demonstrate whether the bill to reorganize the DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) to enhance is cyber security mission focus can pass as well, Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), told Defense Daily just before giving the morning keynote address at a cyber security conference hosted by Meritalk and the information security firm Tenable.

Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Information Technology of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee wrote a letter with Rep. Ted Lieu to FBI Director James Comey opposing an encryption backdoor effort. Photo: U.S. House of Representatives.
Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), a member of the House Homeland Security Committee and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Information Technology of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Photo: U.S. House of Representatives.

Hurd earlier told reporters that issues with “silly” competing jurisdictions in the House among committees that have oversight of DHS have been a key reason why the NPPD bill has been delayed. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, has complained frequently about the fragmented oversight of DHS in the House hampering not only his and other bills but also the department’s ability to efficiently deal with Congress.

In late May, McCaul had said he planned to introduce the NPPD reorganization bill in early June.

The DHS authorization bill, the first to be marked up since the department was created about 15 years ago, is expected to go to the House floor for consideration next week. The bill essentially codifies existing practices and authorities within DHS, but is also seen by McCaul as the first step in routine reauthorizations of the department to enhance congressional oversight and responsibilities.

The NPPD bill, which dates back to the previous Congress and was supported by the former Obama administration and is supported by the Trump administration, would elevate the directorate to an agency with an operational focus for cyber and infrastructure protection. The Cybersecurity Division within NPPD already is focused on its operating mission but wants those authorities codified, which would enhance its standing and mission focus.

Hurd said that the NPPD bill will help “mature” the focus on the cyber mission. Regarding the jurisdiction issues around the bill, he said “we haven’t put the gloves back on seriously for this year” to fight for the bill.