Republicans will be on the hook for the next major cyberattack if they refuse to come to the table on a proposed $5 billion boost in cybersecurity funding, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said on Tuesday.
“It’s unfortunate Republicans on the Budget Committee won’t even have a discussion with us about it,” Earnest said.
At the center of the proposal is a request for $19 billion for federal cyber spending, a 35 percent jump over last year’s allotment of $14 billion.
The plan would also establish a new senior federal cyber official and create a presidential cyber commission to establish a long-term road map.
Talking to reporters after the budget's release, President Obama described the proposal as nonpartisan.
“That is something that we all should agree on,” he said. “This is not an ideological thing. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Democratic president or a Republican president.”
But the Senate Budget Committee this year has opted not to hold a hearing on the White House budget for the first time in committee history, according to the panel’s Democrats.
“This year, with no unusual circumstances to prevent us from doing our work, we have been provided with no reasonable explanation for the decision not to hold a hearing,” they said in a letter to Chairman Mike EnziMike EnziTrump should work with Congress to block regulations on prepaid cards GOP wrestles with big question: What now? Top Dem: Trump's State Dept. cuts a 'Ponzi scheme' MORE (R-Wyo.).
Earnest slammed the decision, vowing to bring up the move the next time the country experiences a major cyberattack, whether it’s at a prominent private company or a government agency.
“I guarantee you that at some point over the next year, we’re all going to file into the Briefing Room, and I will walk in and find many of you on the edge of your seats eager to ask the White House about the latest cyber intrusion,” he said.
“I will certainly make detailed note of the significant investments we are proposing to enhance our cybersecurity, and you can be certain that I will point out that when we put forward this proposal, Republicans on the Budget Committee refused to even discuss it."
In recent years, cybersecurity spending has remained a largely bipartisan affair, with most agencies getting full funding for digital security requests.
But the White House has not previously asked for such a dramatic one-time increase in cyber funds.
Earnest warned that the public will turn against the GOP if it does not support the investment.
“The American people, rightfully, will have lots of questions about Republicans commitment to confronting this issue that is critical to both our nation's economy and our national security,” he said.
Obama made a similar, albeit less threatening, appeal to Congress.
“We believe we’ll be able to execute this in an effective way if Congress provides us the budgetary support to make this happen,” he said. “And they should.”