Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, who will be stepping aside in January as chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee after leading the panel since 2013, said today he expects the committee’s core policy interests and aims will continue under the direction of the panel’s incoming chairman, presumably the current ranking member Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss.

Speaking at an event organized by Bloomberg Government, Rep. McCaul said that “most of the issues we dealt with on the committee were bipartisan.”  And he indicated that interest would remain high in cybersecurity issues, saying, “With cyber, it’s not the future anymore, it’s now.”

He also hailed House passage this week of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act (CISA Act) which authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to reorganize its existing National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) in order to create a new component agency–the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency–within DHS.

The reorganization, which Rep. McCaul long championed, will “elevate” CISA, “give them respect,” and “prioritize their mission,” he said.

Speaking about current cyberscecurity risks facing the U.S., Rep. McCaul said that high on his list of worries is a potential attack on the power grid in the northeastern U.S., as that portion of the grid is made up of separate but highly integrated networks.  He recommended that the Northeastern grid be “sectioned off so if one plant gets hit the rest don’t go down.”

“We know the Chinese and Russians have their fingerprints” in the U.S. power grid, he added.

Rep. McCaul will become ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in January, and said one of his priorities in that position will be to try to “elevate the role of cybersecurity at the State Department.”

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