Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Jen Easterly said today she is confident that Congress will give CISA the funding it needs to execute on its mission even in times of skinnier Federal budgets, and emphasized her belief that cybersecurity is an issue with substantial bipartisan support among lawmakers.

The White House’s fiscal year 2024 budget request released in March proposes a 4.9 percent year-over-year funding boost for CISA, to $3.1 billion. Among the larger spending accounts in that proposed budget are $425 million for a new Cyber Analytics Data System, and $98 million to implement the Cyber Incident Reporting for Critical Infrastructure Act. The agency also remains a key player in executing on President Biden’s 2021 cybersecurity executive order, and helping Federal civilian agencies migrate to zero trust security architectures.

Speaking today at an event organized by Axios, Easterly was asked about the debt ceiling agreement in principle being debated this week in Congress that would increase the national debt limit through early 2025. That agreement – which still needs congressional approval – would leave Federal non-defense spending in FY2024 flat with FY2023 levels, and permit just a one percent increase in FY2025. By contrast, President Biden’s FY2024 budget request envisioned a seven percent boost in nondefense spending for FY2024.

“I was really encouraged about the deal” Easterly said, referring to the debt ceiling agreement in principle, and “look forward to that being passed.”

Responding to a question about whether CISA will get the funding it needs for FY2024, Easterly replied, “we have enjoyed incredible bipartisan congressional support since CISA was established at the end of 2018.”

“Since I came on board, our budget has grown by a billion dollars, we’ve hired 1,105 people, been good stewards of that budget,” she said. Easterly said the agency’s proposed FY2024 budget received a positive reception at appropriations committee hearings in Congress earlier this year, and concluded, “I believe we will get the resources that we need to help defend the nation in cyber.”

“I’m very confident that cybersecurity will remain a bipartisan congressional issue,” she said, adding, “we’re grateful for it.”

Asked to explain the risk if CISA does not receive adequate funding, Easterly said, “I do worry about our ability to defend the nation, to work with critical infrastructure to keep us safe and resilient in the face of increasingly complex and dynamic cyber threats.”

She referenced a recent advisory published by CISA and allied security agencies about Chinese government-sponsored hacking threats, and said, “these are the types of threats that we need to be prepared to defend against and that’s why continuing to resource our budget is so incredibly important.”

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.