Wednesday, September 15, 2021

HR 5186 Introduced – CISA Leadership

Earlier this month, Rep Garbarino (R,NY) introduced HR 5186, the CISA Leadership Act. The bill would set the term of the Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at five years and would establish the position as one requiring a presidential appointment with the advice and consent of the Senate.

CISA Director

This bill would amend 6 USC 652(b). First it would add the following at the end of paragraph (1):

“The Director shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.”

Then it would insert a new paragraph (2), Term. That paragraph would establish the term of appointment for the Director to be five-years.

Moving Forward

Garbarino is a member of the House Homeland Security Committee to which this bill was assigned for primary consideration as are five { Langevin (D,RI), Katko (R,NY), Clarke (D,NY), Norman (R,SC), Thompson (D,MS), and Katko (R,NY)} of his six cosponsors. With Thompson and Katko being Chair and Ranking Member respectively, there is certainly enough influence to see this bill be considered in Committee, probably at the next markup hearing. I see nothing in the bill to engender any significant opposition. I suspect that it will draw enough bipartisan support for it to be considered under the House suspension of the rules process. It would certainly pass in the House.


It seems odd that the first part of the amendment to §652, referring to the Director being appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, was not included in the original language. The current Director, Jen Easterly, was nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Everyone knew this was a requirement for the position, it just was not spelled out in the authorization language in §652.

There have been some people that thought that the second part of the §652 amendment (5-year term limit for the Director) was some sort of insult or slap at Director Easterly. With the bipartisan nature of the sponsors, that was certainly not the intent. The language proposed in this bill is nearly identical to that found in 49 CFR 114 that sets the 5-year term limit for the TSA Administrator.

The 5-year term is meant to emphasize that the CISA Director is not really a political appointee. While appointed by the President, the Director is supposed to be a cybersecurity professional with large-program administration experience.

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