A former chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the United States Chamber of Commerce are the latest additions to a growing list of supporters for a key recommendation of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission – a National Cyber Director.

H.R. 7331, the “National Cyber Director Act,” would create a Senate-confirmed position in the Executive Office of the President to coordinate the country’s cybersecurity. The House Committee on Oversight and Reform held a hearing on the legislation today, featuring testimony from two of the bill’s co-sponsors, who served on the Solarium Commission, as well as individuals who had previously served in cybersecurity roles in government.

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Solarium co-chair Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., who sponsored the legislation, called the creation of the position “the least bureaucratic, the least onerous, and the most efficient of all possible options.”

Former Rep. Mike Rogers, a Republican who chaired the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence from 2011 to 2015, said the position has his “wholehearted support.”

“It doesn’t expand government,” said Rogers, “it focuses government.”

Jamil Jaffer, who worked for Rogers as senior counsel to the committee, disagreed. He said he was “skeptical” of the Senate-confirmed position and accompanying office of up to 75 people.

“Making the role Senate-confirmed would provide greater permanence,” said Rep. Gallagher, of the position, a version of which had been eliminated in 2018 by then-National Security Advisor John Bolton.

“I understand there are those, particularly my Republican colleagues who may be skeptical, that this is an added layer of bureaucracy, I just would say to you that I came into this discussion with that as my ideological prior,” said Rep. Gallagher, asking his colleagues to “consider how we can make a meaningful reform of the status quo.”

“We, in Congress, must sufficiently enable the Federal government to create a cohesive national strategy and defense in the cyber domain,” he said. “I urge you to support the Commission’s recommendation on the creation of a National Cyber Director.”

Rep. Gallagher referenced the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s recent letter in support of the position. Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., a Solarium commissioner, and sponsor of the legislation, asked that the letter be entered into the congressional record.

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Dwight Weingarten
Dwight Weingarten
Dwight Weingarten is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.