House Adopts Langevin, Gallagher Amendment on Election Cybersecurity Based on Solarium Commission Report

Mar 2, 2021 Issues: Cybersecurity, Vote

WASHINGTON – Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), a former Rhode Island Secretary of State and a member of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, today successfully included a bipartisan amendment to H.R. 1, the For The People Act, that will establish a Senior Cyber Policy Adviser on the staff of the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and explicitly calls out cybersecurity as an ongoing duty for the EAC.

“I strongly believe that a senior figure at the EAC must have responsibility for cybersecurity policy in order to ensure this important element of election administration is appropriately prioritized,” said Langevin, who also serves as co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus. “Creating a Senior Cyber Policy Adviser is a recommendation of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission to help prevent cyber incidents of significant consequence, including those that threaten our democracy. These changes will meaningfully improve the cybersecurity of our elections, something we can all agree is vital.”

The amendment is based on the Solarium Commission’s recommendation 3.4, which reads in part: “Congress should improve the structure and enhance funding of the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), enabling it to increase its operational capacity to support states and localities in defense of the digital infrastructure underpinning federal elections.”

The “Senior Cyber Policy Advisor” would report to the Executive Director of the EAC and would coordinate cybersecurity efforts across the EAC’s various lines of effort. The amendment raises the profile of the position and will help attract leadership with extensive cybersecurity experience, which can be a significant challenge given the workforce shortages in the cybersecurity field.

Further, in alignment with the Solarium Commission’s recommendation, it expands the EAC’s duties under Section 202 of the Help America Vote Act to include the “development, maintenance, and dissemination” of cybersecurity guidelines. By calling out these duties explicitly, it will raise their profile and make clear that the one-time election cybersecurity guidance required under the For the People Act is pursuant to a broader, ongoing requirement to help election administrators secure their systems.

The amendment, co-led by Solarium Commission Co-chair Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI), is the only bipartisan amendment being considered during debate on H.R. 1.

Text of the amendment.