The Senate on July 12 voted unanimously to confirm Jen Easterly as director of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). Easterly will assume the role following a wave of recent cyberattacks targeting critical infrastructure and businesses.

Senate action on the nomination had been held up since mid-June when Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., placed a hold on the nomination until President Biden visited the U.S. southern border. A subsequent visit to El Paso, Texas by Vice President Harris apparently satisfied the senator, who subsequently lifted his hold on the Easterly nomination.

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That gravity of that delay, amid continuing news of high-profile ransomware attacks, was not lost on one senior Senate Democrat.

“Before the Senate adjourned for the July 4th holiday, I stood right here and urged my colleagues to confirm her for this vital position,” said Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, on July 12.

“I warned that without confirming Ms. Easterly, we risked leaving ourselves vulnerable to cyber-attacks,” Sen. Peters said. “And in the two weeks since I last called on my colleagues to approve this critical nomination, nation-state actors and criminal organizations have continued their relentless targeting of the United States.”

Prior to taking the reins at CISA, Easterly’s curriculum vitae includes stints serving as the deputy for counterterrorism at the National Security Agency, and as senior director for counterterrorism on President Obama’s National Security Council.

“I congratulate Jen Easterly on her confirmation as Director of CISA. Jen is a brilliant cybersecurity expert and a proven leader with a career spanning military service, civil service, and the private sector,” said DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in a statement. “I am proud to welcome her to the DHS team and look forward to working together to protect our country from urgent cybersecurity and physical threats.”

In his statement, Mayorkas also thank Acting CISA director Brandon Wales for serving in that capacity after former President Trump fired then-Director Chris Krebs shortly after the 2020 presidential election.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.
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