Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) last week introduced a pair of cyber security bills, one aimed at strengthening the nation’s resiliency in the face of a cyber-attack and another to help the National Guard support states and localities when they are responding to cyber incidents.
The National Guard Cyber Interoperability Act of 2020 (S. 3929) would allow the Army and Air Force, working with the Department of Homeland Security, to develop pilot programs for the National Guard to help in providing remote cyber security support and technical assistance to states when they respond to cyber incidents.
A committee aide told Defense Daily on Friday that a provision of Peters’ bill was included in last Wednesday’s markup of the proposed fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by the Senate Armed Services Committee. A summary of the defense bill, which may be released in full as early as this week, said that one of the cyber security provisions in the legislation calls for a review of the National Guard’s response to cyber-attacks.
Peters, who is the ranking member on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, also introduced the Continuity of the Economy Act of 2020 (S. 3928). The bill would implement recommendation 3.2 of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission report and would require the White House to work with the government and private sector to develop and implement a strategy for ensuring the continuous operation of critical functions of the economy in the event of a significant cyber disruption.
In May, the Senate committee hosted a virtual hearing on the commission’s findings where Peters asked Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), co-chair of the commission, about the continuity of economy recommendation and lessons being learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.
King replied that planning is a “necessity” for “how to bring the economy back.” He also said that planning has to consider the “unthinkable,” such as if the electric grid goes down in one region of the country or another, and that once the pandemic ends there needs to be an “after-action assessment.”
The resilient economy bill was introduced as standalone legislation, but Peters is considering alternative means to advance it, including offering it as an amendment to the NDAA, the committee aide said.
SASC Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said last week that the committee adopted 229 of 391 amendments offered during the markup and that additional amendments would be considered when the defense bill is debated on the Senate floor, which could be as early as this week.
In a statement last Friday, Peters said that “Cyber-attacks are one of the greatest threats to our national security and the United States is not sufficiently prepared to defend itself in cyberspace or recover from a significant cyber disruption…These bills will help prepare our country to defense against and recover from serious attacks on our critical infrastructure–including our financial institutions, transportation infrastructure, and healthcare facilities–that could cause severe disruption to our daily lives.”