Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Caresse Haaser/Axios

The U.S. still doesn’t have a national cybersecurity doctrine that outlines what would happen to adversaries when they launch cyberattacks against the U.S.

Why it matters: The country's ability to fight back is limited without the overarching doctrine and authority laid out for government agencies. That's a problem given that the midterm elections are coming up, and intelligence leaders have said Russia is showing no signs of letting up on its hacking attempts.

What they're saying:

  • “When you lack a strategy or a doctrine, you don’t have the advantage of deterrence,” Republican Rep. Will Hurd, who serves on the House Homeland Security Committee, told Axios.
  • The concern, as independent Sen. Angus King put it during a recent hearing on election security, is that “the Russians sent in this whole operation in to our election system…and paid no price.”
  • “No one is saying ‘the buck stops here,’” said Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich.

The impact: The lack of clear lines of authority to respond to cyberattacks — and hacks of U.S. elections — was a big topic at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing last month. Right now the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the Department of Defense all play roles in defending the U.S. in cyberspace.

Here's how it breaks down:

  • The Department of Homeland Security protects civilian and critical infrastructure, which as of last year includes election infrastructure.
  • The FBI is the lead for investigating cybercrimes and disrupting those trying to commit them.
  • The Department of Defense and intelligence agencies play a role “predominantly when you start going overseas,” according to Robert Silvers, who served as Barack Obama's assistant secretary for cyber policy at DHS.
"I’m a very strong advocate of making it very clear who has the lead."
— Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen

What the White House has done without actually issuing a doctrine: The Trump administration said it would roll out a cyber policy within 90 days after inauguration last year, but the action got delayed.

  • Trump did sign an executive order in May that suggested government agencies use private sector cybersecurity best practices, but it was not a doctrine. It also set off a series of cybersecurity assessments throughout the federal government.
  • A National Security Council official said there were no updates to provide on drafting a doctrine.

The questions a cybersecurity doctrine would have to resolve:

  • Should there be a "red line"? “In the digital world, we're going to see someone get very, very close to that red line" but not cross it, Hurd said. “You do want some strategic ambiguity” left in an ideal doctrine.
  • What should trigger a response? A big question, Hurd said, is whether the U.S. needs to find an individual responsible for a cyberattack, or whether it's enough just to determine that a government entity is responsible.
  • What should the response be? Determining what kinds of attacks deserve a digital response and which ones should provoke other responses — like sanctions, indictments, travel bans, or even a physical attack — brings a host of challenges to the conversation, Hurd said.

What to watch in the meantime: Tom Kellermann, the chief cybersecurity officer at the security company Carbon Black, told me he's worried there will be "a cyber reaction" by Russia in response to the latest sanctions imposed by the U.S.

Go deeper

California governor declares drought emergency in most counties

A sign in April on the outskirts of Buttonwillow in California's Kern County, one of the top agriculture producing counties in the San Joaquin Valley, after historically low winter rainfall. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) extended a drought emergency declaration to cover 41 of the state's 58 counties on Monday.

Why it matters: Most of California and the American West are experiencing an "extreme" or "exceptional" drought, per the U.S. Drought Monitor. Newsom and other officials are concerned California could experience a repeat of the catastrophic 2020 wildfire season.

Pelosi's Republican playbook

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As Republicans fight among themselves, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is showing the myriad ways she deals with the GOP herself.

Between the lines: We've seen Pelosi cut opponents off at the knees, like she did with President Trump, or pretend to forget their names, as she did to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). Now she's feeding oppo research against her House counterpart, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), so others can use the same harsh rhetoric to frame the Republicans as the party of dysfunction.

Exclusive: Houston mayor to lead Black mayors group

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner speaks during a private funeral for George Floyd. Photo: Godofredo A. Vásquez/Pool/Getty Images

The mayor of the city where George Floyd was raised is taking over a group that represents 500 Black mayors in the U.S. amid national pressure to revamp police departments.

Why it matters: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner will become the new president of the African American Mayors Association as municipalities across the country examine police reforms and deal with the economic fallout from the pandemic.