Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), a nearly 22-year veteran in Congress and champion of cyber issues, plans to retire at the end of this term, but there are still some loose ends he wants to tie up before calling it quits.
Langevin is chairman of the House Armed Services Cyber, Innovative Technologies and IT Subcommittee and previous leader of the now-defunct Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Intelligence Subcommittee. In those positions he pushed to make cybersecurity a top issue in the Defense Department before it was on many people’s radar. His efforts helped add cyber roles in the Pentagon, on the National Security Council and in the State Department.
In an interview with Federal News Network just one day after announcing his retirement from Congress, Langevin said he has an aggressive cyber agenda for the year left in his term.
“In terms of legislative priorities on cyber, I’ll be heavily focused on strengthening the systemically important critical infrastructure (SICI),” Langevin said. “Basically, the establishment of benefits and obligations for owners and operators of SICI that enables them to operate and collaborate with the federal government in in securing their systems from cyberattacks.”
Those SICI facilities include water treatment facilities, schools and other important infrastructure, however, the government hasn’t completely defined what constitutes a SICI.
Langevin also said he wants to continue working on the Joint Collaborative Environment that would create a common interoperable toolset for sharing analysis of cyber threat indicators between government and industry.
Another priority is to create the Bureau of Cyber Statistics in the Department of Homeland Security to publish and analyze cyber threats and crime. The idea has the backing of the national cyber director, and there is a bill currently in the Senate to create the department.
“We are going to be looking at the critical technology security centers, which would create centers to test and evaluate the security of network and telecommunications equipment, industrial control systems, open source software and other critical software as defined by President Biden’s executive order, all which are supporting national critical functions,” Langevin said about another priority.
The 11-term congressman said he is working on issues outside of cyber as well. Langevin authored a provision that required DoD to take stock of how resilient its bases are to climate change and extreme weather. The law led to the Pentagon identifying at least 79 critical bases that were in some way vulnerable to weather events.
That study went on to inform DoD’s latest climate change strategy, which focuses on ensuring the military can operate effectively in the new climate structure.
Langevin said he will continue oversight of DoD’s environmental impact and vulnerabilities.
“Climate change poses an existential threat to the country’s security,” he said. “The Pentagon is such a big purchaser of fuel for examples. We need to continue to develop alternative fuels and reducing our carbon footprint will be essential, but also continuing to make sure that we are looking at all the ways that we can make our bases more resilient.”
Outside of cyber and defense, Langevin pushed rights for people with disabilities. Langevin has paralysis in all four limbs from an accidental shooting when he was 16.
One of his top concerns is ensuring the safety of disabled people in natural disasters.
“We want to make sure that people with disabilities have a seat at the table when response plans are developed,” Langevin said. “Everything from ensuring that shelters are accessible and anything else that would go into properly planning to accommodate the needs of people with disabilities when a bad incident does happen.”