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Letter from the Executive Director

The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act tasked the Cyberspace Solarium Commission with answering two fundamental questions. First, what strategic approach will best defend the United States against cyberattacks of significant consequences? Second, what policies and legislation are required to implement that strategy? In its March 2020 report, the Commission advocated for a new strategic approach to cybersecurity—layered cyber deterrence—and produced 82 policy and legislative recommendations to support that strategy.

Now, in this document, the Commission’s staff provides 54 separate legislative proposals to support the implementation of the strategy of layered cyber deterrence and its associated legislative recommendations. While some of recommendations set forth in the March 2020 report require action by the executive branch; private-sector corporations; State, local, tribal and territorial governments; and ordinary American citizens, we hope these legislative proposals will expedite the implementation process and better prepare the nation to protect itself in cyberspace.

The Commission’s staff drew on its own expertise, as well as the support of our general counsel and trusted legal advisors, to produce these proposals. Although the staff regularly consulted the Commissioners during this process, these proposals were not edited or approved by the Commissioners themselves and should be taken as the product of the staff alone.

We have provided this compilation to the staffs of the relevant congressional committees and subcommittees, as well as to the American public, in the hope and expectation of participating in an ongoing dialogue about its content. We are eager to discuss and further refine this language, with the ultimate goal of helping Congress quickly pass the most effective legislation possible.

- Mark Montgomery

Executive Director

Press Release

Cyberspace Solarium Commission Finalizes Legislative Priorities

Over Fifty Recommendations Proposed by Expert Commission to Form America’s Cyber Posture

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) and Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), co-chairs of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission (CSC), today announced the release of the CSC’s Fiscal Year 2021 legislative proposals that in tandem with the final report, deliver real bi-partisan solutions to better defend the nation’s critical infrastructure from cyberattacks of significant consequence.

“The status quo of adversaries increasing their cyber capabilities while America’s vulnerabilities continue to grow is unacceptable,” said Solarium Co-Chair Senator Angus King (I-Maine). “These legislative proposals provide Congress with thoughtful solutions that will limit our adversaries’ ability to undermine American power and influence.”

“The Cyberspace Solarium Commission was clear: we must act decisively to not only better strengthen our ability to coordinate a whole-of-nation response to cyberattacks of significant consequence, but prevent them in the first place,” said Solarium Co-Chair Rep. Gallagher (R-WI). “These bipartisan proposals provide a road map for strengthening our cyber resiliency and help ensure our country is better prepared for — and able to avoid – a cyber calamity."

These 54 dynamic and comprehensive legislative actions seek to operationalize the commission’s strategy of “Layered Cyber Deterrence” which aims to:

  • shape behavior in cyberspace;

  • deny benefits to adversaries who exploit cyberspace;

  • impose costs against those who target America’s economic and democratic institutions in and through cyberspace.

Solarium Commissioner Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE),” observed “China and Russia are serious threats to American cybersecurity and we’ve been playing dangerous catch-up for far too long. These important legislative proposals from the Solarium Commission outline how we must compete at a higher level to defend our interests in the digital future.”

“One of things I’ve loved best about working on the Solarium Commission is that we’ve moved from admiring the problem of cybersecurity to providing actionable solutions,” said Solarium Commissioner Representative Jim Langevin (D-RI). “These legislative proposals are indispensable as we move on to implementing the layered cyber deterrence strategy outlined in our report. We are already seeing significant uptake from our colleagues as we move national security legislation through Congress, and I look forward to continuing to build on that success.”

These legislative proposals were utilized by Members in both the House and Senate to develop submissions into the FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act bills - at the initial Markup, Markup Amendment and Floor Amendment stages, as appropriate. The Commission will also look for other legislative vehicles to move these proposals over the remainder of the congressional cycle.

The CSC was established by the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019, and started in April 2019.

This bi-partisan commission convened nearly every Monday that Congress was in session for a year, with 30 commissioner meetings, drawing upon the expertise of congressional legislators, corporate leaders, federal, state and local officials, academics, and cybersecurity experts. The legislative proposals were developed by the Commission’s staff after the completion of the final report but they represent CSC Commissioners’ consensus after conducting over 400 engagements and accurately portray the CSC’s views on how to implement the report’s recommendations.

The 14 commissioners thoroughly examined America’s posture in cyberspace and worked closely with the executive branch, key congressional defense and homeland security committees, and the private sector to identify strategic opportunities to improve our national preparedness and resilience to a significant cyber disruption. The Commission white paper, “Cybersecurity Lessons Learned from the Pandemic” validated that a great number of these legislative proposals are clearly necessary to successfully prepare for non-traditional national security emergencies.

The CSC was inspired by the spirit of the original Project Solarium convened by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953. While the first Solarium was created to select a strategy to counter the Soviet Union during the early days of the Cold War, this new iteration of the Solarium similarly carries forward a serious obligation to defend the United States and our allies in this new age of global conflict.

The legislative proposal annex can be read here.