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King Bill to Strengthen America’s Cyberdefenses Passes Committee with Broad Bipartisan Support

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), co-chair of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, welcomed the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee’s bipartisan passage of the Defense of U.S. Infrastructure Act – Senator King’s comprehensive bill to strengthen America’s cyber resilience, improve security in the national cyber ecosystem, and strengthen leadership within key cyber-focused federal offices. The legislation, which was led within the committee by Senators Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H), includes a number of key Cyberspace Solarium Commission (CSC) recommendations to address cybersecurity risks for private and public critical infrastructure, and strengthen leadership within key cyber-focused federal offices. If fully passed by Congress, this legislation would mean that more than 30 of the CSC’s recommendations would have been enacted into law.

 

“Throughout 2021, we’ve seen example after example illustrating the United States’ unacceptable vulnerability to cyberattacks,” said Senator King. “Critical pieces of our infrastructure and society have been compromised, from gas pipelines and supply chains to businesses and government online operations. As one of the world’s most digitally-connected countries, a successful cyberattack on the U.S. could cripple important networks in a way that significantly impacts our everyday lives – and possibly cost lives. The threat is real – and we need to lean forward and act to prevent catastrophe. The Defense of U.S. Infrastructure Act represents a number of national priorities that will help us strengthen our cyber resilience, defend our critical infrastructure, and give our cyber leaders the tools they need to protect our nation before disaster strikes. I’m grateful to Chairman Peters, Ranking Member Portman, Senator Rosen, Senator Hassan and the members of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee who helped get this vital bill one step closer to being law, and am glad the recommendations of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission are continuing to guide America’s cybersecurity efforts.”

 

“We must take proactive steps to ensure that our nation’s critical infrastructure remains safe from cyberattacks and do more to prepare for and protect against these threats,” said Senator Rosen. “I want to thank Senator King for introducing this legislation, which I was proud to put forward before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and am glad to see it advancing in the Senate.”

 

“Cyberattacks are a new frontier of warfare – and it is essential that the federal government stays on top of the threat that malicious cyber actors can pose to our national security,” said Senator Hassan. “The bipartisan bill that our Committee passed will strengthen the cybersecurity of our critical infrastructure, and I will continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to move this important bill forward.”

 

Introduced earlier this year with Senators Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), and cosponsored by the Senators Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H), Defense of United States Infrastructure Act would:

 

  • Support a “whole of government” cybersecurity approach. The legislation directs the CISA Director to establish the Cyber Threat Information Collaboration Environment pilot program, a five-year program that facilitates a cloud-based information sharing environment to support a whole-of-government understanding of the cyber threats facing the United States and enable public-private partnerships to confront threats. In addition, it institutes a five-year term for the Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), allowing the agency’s leader to operate and plan without political questions. 
  • Ensure Success for the National Cyber Director. The legislation establishes critical hiring authorities for the newly-created Office of the National Cyber Director, ensuring that the Director will be able to attract and retain high-level talent to enhance the office’s mission.
  • Improve security in the National Cyber Ecosystem. The legislation directs the development of a strategy to better prevent Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) and Domain Name System (DNS) hijacking. The legislation also lays the foundation by requiring for future actions by requiring a report on cybersecurity certification and labeling by the National Cyber Director.

 

As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and co-chair of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, Senator King is recognized as one of Congress’s leading experts on cyberdefense and a strong advocate for a forward-thinking cyberstrategy that emphasizes layered cyberdeterrence. He celebrated the swearing-in of former CSC commissioner, Chris Inglis, as the inaugural National Cyber Director (NCD), because the vital national security position was included in the 25 bipartisan cybersecurity recommendations from the Cyberspace Solarium Commission passed through the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021.

 

The CSC was established by statute in the 2019 NDAA, officially launched in April 2019, and will continue to execute its statutory mission through December 2021 – most recently announcing its “progress report” with 75 percent of its recommendations either having become policy or nearly there. The Commissioner convenes nearly every Monday that Congress is in session, and its staff has conducted more than 400 engagements, drawing upon the expertise of corporate leaders, federal, state and local officials, academics, and cybersecurity experts. The meetings and the ensuing report sought to strengthen America’s posture in cyberspace and identify opportunities to improve our national preparedness to defend ourselves against cyberattacks. 

 

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