Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., told Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Christopher Krebs that Congress would not approve CISA budget cuts contained in the President’s Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Proposal.

“The president only proposes budgets. We [members of Congress] write budgets, and I can tell you these cuts are not going to take place,” Rep. Rogers said at a March 10 House Committee on Homeland Security hearing. The President’s FY2021 budget would cut CISA’s funding by about $250 million, from $2 billion enacted in FY2020, to $1.7 billion proposed by the president for FY2021.

Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., raised specific concerns with budget cuts to research and development (R&D), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T).

“Technology is evolving and creating opportunities for our adversaries to hack critical infrastructure, disrupt our elections, and hold state and local government networks hostage. CISA must be equipped to be an effective Federal partners and S&T must be positioned to develop and identify technology to strengthen our defenses,” he said. “The president’s FY2021 budget fails to do either of those important components.”

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The President’s CISA budget request still includes funds for important R&D efforts, such as $5 million toward quantum information science and artificial intelligence, S&T Acting Deputy Under Secretary André Hentz assured committee members. He explained that S&T R&D represents less than 0.5 percent of national R&D funding, and that the agency is getting “as much value out of those funds as possible.”

For his part, Krebs defended the President’s FY2021 Budget Proposal. He explained that because of Federal budget timelines, the request would actually mark an increase in funding for CISA. “The ‘21 budget request, the president’s budget request, was built on the ’19 enacted. So, if you look at it through that lens, it’s actually an increase over the ’19 enacted,” he said. “There was not time to peg it against the ’20 [appropriations].”

He also outlined upcoming funding priorities for CISA in FY2021, including focusing on agency strengths, seeking strategic alliances with partners, and becoming more customer centric.

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Katie Malone
Katie Malone
Katie Malone is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.