A sign at the entrance to a House Armed Services Committee hearing room in Washington, D.C.

A sign at the entrance to a House Armed Services Committee hearing room in Washington, D.C. Katherine Welles / Shutterstock

House Lawmakers Split Oversight of Cyber, Intel

Seven Armed Services Committee subcommittees will help oversee the vast Defense Department.

The House Armed Services Committee separated oversight of intelligence functions from the purview of a subcommittee that has been leading on cybersecurity issues over the years, saying it will increase much-needed attention to both areas.

In a pair of statements Wednesday, the committee announced its dissolution of the Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee and introduced two new panels: the Cyber, Innovative Technologies, and Information Systems, or CITI, subcommittee and the Intelligence and Special Operations subcommittee. The latter will be chaired by Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz. 

“The scope of the Armed Services Committee is vast by necessity – it is our responsibility to oversee the entire Department of Defense, the largest agency in the federal government,” Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., and Gallego said in a joint statement. “To that end, it is critical that our committee structure allows each subcommittee to dedicate the time and staff resources required to perform rigorous oversight and to enact meaningful legislation that advances our national security each and every year.” 

Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., will chair the CITI subcommittee, the congressman said Wednesday in another joint statement with Smith. Langevin, who is also co-chair of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus and a member of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, led the intelligence and emerging threats and capabilities subcommittee last session. The panel was crucial for including several of the Solarium Commission’s recommendations, including the creation of a national cyber director’s office, in the National Defense Authorization Act.

The subcommittee’s jurisdiction will now explicitly include cybersecurity, operations, and forces; information technology, systems, and operations; science and technology programs and policy; defense-wide research and development (except missile defense and space); artificial intelligence policy and programs; electromagnetic spectrum policy; electronic warfare policy; and computer software acquisition policy.

“The Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act has widely been touted as the most significant piece of cybersecurity legislation ever to pass Congress,” the statement reads. “While we are proud of what has already been accomplished, we considered how a more targeted focus could help us achieve even more objectives in the domain.”

Gallego’s jurisdiction, as chair of the new intelligence and special operations subcommittee, will include military intelligence, national intelligence, special operations forces, countering chemical, biological, and radiological weapons of mass destruction, counter-proliferation, counterterrorism and sensitive military operations.    

His statement with Smith also suggested issues of disinformation, which have been a tactic of cyber adversaries and is also linked to artificial intelligence, would fall under Gallego’s oversight. 

“As the country faces unprecedented threats from our adversaries and competitors, especially the disruptive impact of disinformation attacks, we will ensure that special operations forces and the Defense Intelligence Enterprise are postured to address those threats,” the statement reads. “It is critical that these highly sensitive areas of the Committee’s jurisdiction receive the time and attention they deserve, and this new subcommittee structure will facilitate exactly that.”