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Sen. Angus King (I-ME) discusses the new national cyber director role, continuity of economy planning and other recommendations from his commission

The just-passed National Defense Authorization Act includes 26 amendments from the Cyberspace Solarium Commission. Co-Chair of the Commission, Senator Angus King (I-Maine), joined “Government Matters” to discuss the Solarium’s progress.

“If we were a Major League Baseball player, we’d be holding out for a big contract next year based on our percentage,” King said. “It was a lot of work.”

The Solarium pitched 34 amendments to the NDAA this year, and 26 made it to the final draft. The Commission has a total of 52 amendments it plans to give to Congress. Rather than submitting ideas to Congress, the Solarium submitted fully-drafted bills with legislative language. King said this made it easier for legislators to get onboard.

“Instead of leaving [legislators] to do the work, we did it for them and said, ‘here’s the proposal, here’s the language, all you have to do is say yes,’” King said.

He said having members of the Solarium in Armed Services Committees in both the House and Senate also made it easier to pass the amendments. The process, though, King said was “a heck of a lot of work.”

“In order to get those recommendations into the bill, we had to get 180 clearances from both sides of all kinds of committees on Capitol Hill,” he said. “It was really a monumental undertaking.”

King credits his staff for the Solarium’s achievements in the NDAA, and says he plans to continue to push for Solarium amendments in the future.

“Execution is as important as vision. And we’ve provided the vision, but the execution is critically important. So working with the new administration on execution, for example, who is going to be the first National Cyber Director, a very important provision,” King said.

He said next year he plans to prioritize the recognition of the international dimension of cybersecurity.

“This is not just a national problem, this is a worldwide problem. And so one of our recommendations is the creation of a new Assistant Secretary of State for Cyber, whose job it would be to work with international organizations and international bodies, setting standards, norms and guardrails for cyber,” he said. “We want somebody at the State Department who gets up every morning thinking, ‘how are we going to advance the cause of cybersecurity worldwide?’ And that’s, I think, one of our most important recommendations that hasn’t yet hit the Congress.”

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January 2021
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