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Democrats Attempt to Save State Department’s Cyber Office

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An amendment to a spending bill filed by six Democrats recently would block Secretary of State Rex Tillerson from shuttering his department’s cyber wing.

The State Department’s first and only cyber coordinator, Chris Painter, abruptly left the office at the end of July and Tillerson is reportedly considering folding the office’s duties into State’s economic division.

The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., would block Tillerson from either closing or moving the office. The amendment is to a major spending bill that consolidates the contents of the eight spending bills not yet passed by the House.

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The amendment is co-sponsored by House Intelligence Committee ranking member Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and House Homeland Security Committee ranking member Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., as well as Reps. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., and Jacky Rosen, D-Nev.

Painter published a full-throated defense of his office’s work Aug. 1 but did not address the circumstances surrounding his departure.

The cyber coordinator’s office advocates for international cyber rules of the road and confidence building measures at the United Nations and other international forums and in bilateral meetings with allies including Germany, Japan, South Korea and Brazil.

The office also helps developing nations build up their cybersecurity infrastructures. 

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