House votes to restore State cyber office, bucking Tillerson

Source: The Hill | January 17, 2018 | Morgan Chalfant

House lawmakers have passed legislation that would restore a State Department office to engage with the international community on cybersecurity policy, in a sign of disapproval to Secretary Rex Tillerson’s reorganization efforts.

The Cyber Diplomacy Act passed the House in a voice vote on Wednesday afternoon, nearly five months after Tillerson notified Congress of his plans to shutter the Office of Cybersecurity Coordinator.

Democrats and Republicans have both expressed concerns and, in some cases, criticism of Tillerson’s decision to eliminate the office and shuffle its responsibilities under a bureau responsible for economic and business affairs.

“At a time when the U.S. is increasingly under attack online, shouldn’t the State Department continue to have high-level leadership focused on the whole range of cyber issues, not relegated to economics?” Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) asked John Sullivan, Tillerson’s deputy, at a hearing in September.

State Department officials have insisted that cyber remains a top priority at the department and that the move reflects an integration of the department’s cyber and digital economy policymaking efforts.

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