Cyber Overshadowed by Border Issues at DHS Appropriations Hearing

Cybersecurity and other IT-centric issues made cameo appearances at today’s House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing on the Department of Homeland Security’s FY2020 budget proposal, but were quickly overshadowed by sharp questions about immigration and border protection policy.

The FY2020 budget proposal’s provisions for cybersecurity-related funding and money for DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) raised no audible concerns among subcommittee members. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., told DHS Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan there is “a lot of great work being done” at DHS, and that “there are many places we can agree” including on cybersecurity mission and funding.

McAleenan reiterated that the FY2020 budget request includes $1.3 billion for federal network protection and infrastructure security, including DHS’s Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) and EINSTEIN programs.

On the broader IT front, McAleenan said the Trump administration’s proposal for $5 billion to construct more physical barriers at the U.S. southern border also involved a “commitment to the procurement and sustainment of technology,” including remote video surveillance systems and associated command and control systems.

Saying that the southwest border “is really what is front and center these days,” Rep. Fleischmann said the $5 billion request for border wall funding “will remain a challenge,” but that the subcommittee is “up to it.”

Democratic leaders on the subcommittee and its parent committee roundly criticized the Trump administration’s border and immigration policies, with Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., who chairs the subcommittee, calling them “a tragic step in the wrong direction.” Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., chair of the full committee, told McAleenan that enforcing immigration laws “is a difficult and necessary job, and we understand that.” But she added, “heartless” enforcement of the law is un-American and unacceptable.”

John Curran
About John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.

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