Four lawmakers are criticizing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s approval of a new cybersecurity and emerging technologies bureau and calling for President-elect Joe Biden to hit pause when he is sworn in and takes office.

Reportedly, Sens. Angus King, I-Maine; Ben Sasse, R-Neb.; Reps. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis.; and Jim Langevin, D-R.I., released a joint statement criticizing the Department of State’s decision to move ahead with the Bureau of Cyberspace Security and Emerging Technologies (CSET) in the final days of the Trump administration.

“We are concerned that the State Department has moved forward with a misguided cyberspace reorganization in the waning days of the Trump administration despite objections from Congressional leaders,” Langevin tweeted on Jan. 12.

“In our report, we emphasize the need for a greater emphasis on international cyber policy at State. However, unlike the bipartisan Cyber Diplomacy Act, the State Department’s proposed Bureau will reinforce existing silos and […] hinder the development of a holistic strategy to promote cyberspace stability on the international stage. We urge President-elect Biden to pause this reorganization when he takes office in two weeks and work with Congress to enact meaningful reform to protect our country in cyberspace.” he added.

This comes after the department notified Congress of its intent to create CSET in June 2019. However, the idea to create a cyber bureau at the State Department dates back even further. In January 2019, House members introduced a bill to create an Office on International Cyberspace Policy, led by an ambassador for cyberspace.

The move was also criticized by Christopher Painter, the former State Department Coordinator for Cyber Issues under both the Trump and Obama administrations.

“Laughable that this is done @ the 11th hr [sic] when this was not adequately resourced or prioritized for 4 yrs. Also, this formulation only preserves stovepipes rather than coordination,” Painter tweeted on Jan. 7.

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.