The Senate unanimously confirmed Jen Easterly as director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency on Monday.
Easterly takes over an agency struggling to address widespread digital weaknesses inside the government and across the country, Politico reported.
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., blocked a June 23 vote on Easterly until either President Joe Biden or Vice President Kamala Harris visited the U.S.-Mexico border. Harris visited the border late last month.
Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, expressed frustration Easterly had not been confirmed sooner.
"Before the Senate adjourned for the July 4th holiday, I stood right here and urged my colleagues to confirm her for this vital position," Peters said on the Senate floor Monday.
"I warned that without confirming Ms. Easterly, we risked leaving ourselves vulnerable to cyberattacks, 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."
Easterly, a former senior National Security Agency and White House counterterrorism and cyber official, becomes the second person to officially lead CISA, which bills itself as the "nation's risk advisor," according to The Hill.
The Department of Homeland Security agency is responsible for helping defend critical infrastructure against cybersecurity threats, including elections.
Created in 2018, CISA has struggled to assemble a staff sufficiently equipped to defend the country's physical and digital infrastructure. Cyberattacks such as the SolarWinds espionage campaign and the Colonial Pipeline, JBS, and Kaseya ransomware attacks, have strained the agency.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas praised the confirmation of Easterly, who takes over from CISA Executive Director Brandon Wales, who has served as acting director since November.
"I congratulate Jen Easterly on her confirmation as Director of CISA," Mayorkas said in a statement. "Jen is a brilliant cybersecurity expert and a proven leader with a career spanning military service, civil service, and the private sector. 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."
Former President Donald Trump fired former CISA Director Christopher Krebs in November following CISA’s efforts to push back against claims of alleged election fraud.
Lawmakers recently gave CISA new authorities that include the ability to proactively hunt for intrusions on other agencies’ networks, The Hill reported.
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