Rounds pushing for new White House cybersecurity post

New position proposed in defense spending bill

Mike Rounds 2017 2.jpg
U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds attends an event in 2017 at Dakotafest in Mitchell, S.D. Forum News Service file photo

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., is among those on Capitol Hill who is leading the charge for a new top cybersecurity position within the White House.

The position would be created as the chief adviser to the president on matters of cybersecurity to the United States entitled as the National Cyber Director. It is proposed as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2021, which passed through the House and Senate Conference process on Thursday.

Rounds, who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, said Thursday that the creation of the position is important as cyber threats to the United States increase. The position was previously eliminated by President Donald Trump's administration in 2018 in changes to the National Security Council.

“The creation of a National Cyber Director position in this year’s NDAA was the result of years of hard work,” Rounds said in a statement. “The provision, which was recommended by the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, is both bipartisan and bicameral. The end result, we believe, will strengthen our nation’s cybersecurity planning and coordination at all levels of government as well as between the public and private sectors. I look forward to being a part of the implementation process to make sure the role is executed as intended.”

Rounds said himself, along with Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) and Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), have been involved in developing the final text related to the National Cyber Director that was included in the $740.5 billion NDAA.


“It is abundantly clear the country needs someone in charge of cybersecurity at the highest levels of government,” Langevin told The Washington Post .

The plan advances a number of Department of Defense recommendations to strengthen cyber space defense. That includes strengthening the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) at the Department of Homeland Security. CISA Director Chris Krebs had run the agency for the last two years before he was fired last month by President Donald Trump in retaliation for Krebs calling the 2020 Election “the most secure in American history” and that there was no evidence of the nation’s voting systems being compromised.

Rounds told CBS News on Nov. 18 that he was “very disappointed when I found out that he had been terminated,” joining other Senate Republicans who criticized the president’s move.

Other notable cybersecurity efforts in the NDAA bill include: allowing the National Guard a larger role in working with federal and state agencies to address cyber attacks, create federally funded cyber coordinators in every state who would create cyber threat plans and give CISA subpoena power to force internet companies to share the names of organizations that are vulnerable to hacking.

Trump has threatened to veto the bill because he has insisted that it should remove liability protections in place for social media companies, but the bill must pass to continue military operations, putting on pressure for the president’s signature.

The House and Senate are scheduled to vote on the conference version of the NDAA next week.

Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at
What To Read Next
Get Local