As Biden’s pick for national cyber director — Harry Coker — makes his way through the Senate, the current acting director nears her last day.
Harry Coker, the Biden administration’s choice for national cyber director, cleared the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Wednesday, moving the former executive director of the National Security Agency one step closer to taking over the position.
The committee advanced him in a 9-6 vote largely along party lines, with Roger Marshall, R-Kan, joining Democrats to move Coker’s nomination to the full Senate.
During the business meeting Wednesday, committee chair Gary Peters, D-Mich., praised Coker as “a dedicated public servant with four decades of national security experience as a naval officer and in leadership roles at the [NSA] and CIA.”
The advancement comes shortly before the last day on the job for the current acting director, Kemba Walden, who is leaving her post Friday, ONCD confirmed to Nextgov/FCW.
Coker, however, will still need to get a majority vote from the full Senate to be confirmed to the role. It’s unclear who will serve as the acting national cyber director in the meantime.
"We urge the Senate to move quickly to confirm Harry Coker as national cyber director," a White House official told Nextgov/FCW. "Cyber security remains at the forefront of the Biden-Harris Administration’s focus and will continue to work to strengthen our nation’s cyber defenses."
After the White House’s first national cyber director, Chris Inglis, left the job in February, Walden received endorsements for the role, including from cyber heavy-hitters Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., and Sen. Angus King, I-Maine. She did not ultimately didn’t receive the nomination, however, with several news outlets reporting it was because of concerns about personal debt.
In a statement shared with Nextgov/FCW, Walden called her work “the honor of a lifetime” and said that “we’ve accomplished so much, including releasing and implementing the President’s National Cybersecurity Strategy in an effort to build a safe, secure digital ecosystem that aligns with our values and allows all Americans to prosper.”
Editor's note: This article has been updated to include a comment from the White House.