Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) on Wednesday reintroduced legislation to authorize the National Guard's role in assisting state and local governments to strengthen their cyber security infrastructure.
The bill was first introduced last year but failed to make it into the fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, which included a bevy of cyber security legislation, including the establishment of a National Cyber Director in the White House and cyber security coordinators in every state.
Hassan and Cornyn said the National Guard is limited in how it can support states with their cyber defenses.
"We have seen unprecedented cyberattacks throughout the country this past year, most notably the SolarWinds attack, but also cyberattacks on schools, hospitals, and state and local governments amid the COVID-19 pandemic," Hassan said in a statement. "These attacks can be just as devastating as emergencies that the National Guard already provides assistance with, which is why Senator Cornyn and I are working together across the aisle to ensure that states are able to utilize the impressive expertise that our National Guard members have in order to strengthen state and local cyber resiliency."
The National Guard Cybersecurity Support Act, S. 70, says it will amend Title 32 of the U.S. Code "to authorize cybersecurity operations and missions to protect critical infrastructure by members of the National Guard in connection with training or other duty."
A spokeswoman for Hassan told Defense Daily that given the SolarWinds hack, cyberattacks related to COVID, and the Biden administration's focus on cyber security, "there's renewed urgency on this bill and we're optimistic that it can get passed into law this year."