President Biden’s election to the administration’s top cyber post hit a roadblock from Republican Senator Rick Scott, who threatened to halt the confirmation process until Biden visits the southern border.
The nominations of Jen Easterly to lead the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and John C. Inglis to serve as the country’s first national cyber director went through the Senate Committee on Government Affairs and National Security on Wednesday by a vote of voice. But Scott, from Florida, said he would detain Ms. Easterly over concerns about the immigration crisis at the border.
Suspension is a parliamentary procedure whereby any senator can block a motion from reaching the full Senate. Similar to filibuster, the Senate can break a suspension with a closing vote, but that takes a long time and must exceed a threshold of 60 votes.
“I clearly support Jen Easterly to be the director of CISA, she has the right experience to do the job, [and] it does not reflect her nomination, but I am going to keep all nominations, including hers, until the president visits the border, “Scott said at a committee meeting Wednesday. “I think the president should visit the border and tell us how he is going to deal with the crisis.”
Mr. Scott previously pledged to keep all Department of Homeland Security nominations until Mr. Biden visits the southern border. The department oversees CISA but not Mr. Inglis’s new position. Scott’s office said it was not imposing a similar scrutiny on Inglis’s nomination.
The pang of Biden’s policy on the southern border irritated Senator Tom Carper, a Democrat from Delaware.
“I would just like to point out that President Biden, former Vice President Biden, former Senator Biden has probably been to the US-Mexico border more than any other member of this committee,” Carper said. “And I suppose he will go again.”
Mr. Biden previously served as a senator from Delaware.
The new hurdles to Easterly’s nomination come as the federal government is working to develop a federal cyber strategy amid an onslaught of cyberattacks and ransomware hackers that have compromised federal networks.
Senator Angus King, an independent from Maine who participates with Senate Democrats, has described the positions that Mr. Inglis and Ms. Easterly would serve as the equivalent of the secretary of defense and joint chiefs of staff in the cyber domain.
CISA is overseen by acting director Brandon Wales, who took over the agency after former President Trump fired its previous director, Chris Krebs, over a dispute over the security of the 2020 election.