A bipartisan Senate bill introduced Oct. 21 would make clear the authority of state governments to deploy their National Guard resources to help state and local governments improve their cybersecurity infrastructure and services.

The bill introduced by Sens. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, would “authorize cybersecurity operations and missions to protect critical infrastructure by members of the National Guard in connection with training or other duty.” The text of the legislation says that National Guard help may be requested by states to protect “critical infrastructure,” as defined by Federal law.

Currently, National Guard organizations are limited in how they can support states in efforts to improve cyber defense, the senators said.

“The National Guard fights to protect Americans from cybersecurity threats every day, and it is essential that they have the authority to provide support to state agencies and local governments working to keep us safe online,” Sen. Cornyn said in a statement. “By ensuring the National Guard is able to work with states and localities to improve their cyber infrastructure, we can make sure the U.S. stays one step ahead of bad actors.”

“Cyberattacks can jeopardize our national security, shut down electrical grids, and threaten the operations of our hospitals and schools – we must ensure that the National Guard can help with these types of threats just like any other threat that states face,” said Sen. Hassan.

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