President Donald Trump signed a measure Friday that renames and reorganizes a division within the Department of Homeland Security that works to reduce physical and cybersecurity threats to the country’s infrastructure.
The directorate will be renamed the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and will operate with independence akin to the Secret Service. The goal of the new independence and autonomy of the office is to speed up the department’s efforts to protect the nation’s energy grid and critical infrastructure.
The new agency will, among other responsibilities, head cybersecurity and infrastructure security programs.
The legislation was sponsored by Texas Republican Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security. He was present at the signing alongside incoming House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
White House chief of staff John Kelly, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, the newly created agency’s new chief, Christopher Krebs, and several Homeland Security officials were also in attendance.
Nielsen, in a Tuesday statement, called the passage of the legislation “a significant step to stand up a federal government cybersecurity agency.”
“The cyber threat landscape is constantly evolving, and we need to ensure we’re properly positioned to defend America’s infrastructure from threats digital and physical,” she said. “It was time to reorganize and operationalize (the new division) into the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.”
Nielsen admitted in her Senate testimony about the bill last month that “(the Department of Homeland Security) was not built for a digital pandemic” but that creating the new division out from inside the department might make it more nimble.
CNN’s Jose Pagliery contributed to this report.