Week ahead: Lawmakers seek answers on hack

All eyes will be on the Obama administration as the public presses for answers about the ever-widening scope of the data breach at the Office of Personnel Management.

It was revealed Thursday that up to 14 million people — potentially including every current and former member of the federal government, government contractors and people named in background checks — may have had their personal information exposed by the hack.

When the hack was first announced in early June, the OPM said it believed hackers had gotten the records of 4 million current and former executive branch workers. But rumblings grew throughout this past week that more records were involved, with estimates ranging from 9 million to 14 million.

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Those worries were compounded late Friday by reports of a second separate breach that may have given Chinese-backed hackers access to security clearance information for millions of intelligence and military personnel.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will try to get some specifics from the administration during a Tuesday hearing.

A slate of top administration officials are expected to testify, including Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and the chief information officers for the OPM, Office of Management and Budget and the Interior Department, which housed the data center that was compromised.

Over in the Senate, Republican leaders will look to reassess and figure out how to move forward with a cybersecurity measure after failing to attach it to the annual defense authorization bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocratic senator to party: 'A little message discipline wouldn't kill us' House to vote on resolution affirming peaceful transition of power Republican lawyers brush off Trump's election comments MORE (R-Ky.) had wanted to link a cyber bill — intended to facilitate the public-private exchange of information on hackers — to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

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The move was an attempt to rush the measure, known as the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), through Congress in the wake of the OPM breach.

But Democrats balked at the maneuver, arguing they should have the chance to offer privacy-enhancing amendments.

Several surveillance critics, including Sens. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyBipartisan representatives demand answers on expired surveillance programs Democrats shoot down talk of expanding Supreme Court Battle over timing complicates Democratic shutdown strategy MORE (D-Vt.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Subpoenas for Facebook, Google and Twitter on the cards | Wray rebuffs mail-in voting conspiracies | Reps. raise mass surveillance concerns On The Money: Anxious Democrats push for vote on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi, Mnuchin ready to restart talks | Weekly jobless claims increase | Senate treads close to shutdown deadline Democratic senators ask inspector general to investigate IRS use of location tracking service MORE (D-Ore.), had pledged to alter the bill on the floor to quell fears that it would simply shuttle more sensitive data to the National Security Agency.

Democrats mustered just enough votes to block the move to attach the bill’s language to the NDAA, causing Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCrenshaw looms large as Democrats look to flip Texas House seat Analysis: Biden victory, Democratic sweep would bring biggest boost to economy The Memo: Trump's strengths complicate election picture MORE (R-Ariz.) to withdraw the amendment.

Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidThe Supreme Court vacancy — yet another congressional food fight Trump seeks to turn around campaign with Supreme Court fight On The Trail: Battle over Ginsburg replacement threatens to break Senate MORE (D-Nev.) has called for the Senate to take up CISA immediately following the conclusion of the NDAA debate. But McConnell rejected that plan on the Senate floor, leaving it unclear what Republicans’ next move is for the cyber bill.

“We have a plan A and a plan B,” Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynHillicon Valley: Productivity, fatigue, cybersecurity emerge as top concerns amid pandemic | Facebook critics launch alternative oversight board | Google to temporarily bar election ads after polls close Lawmakers introduce legislation to boost cybersecurity of local governments, small businesses On The Trail: Making sense of this week's polling tsunami MORE (R-Texas) told reporters shortly before Democrats stymied plan A. “Our plan B is plan A.”

 

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Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) called Democrats “just flat irresponsible” from the floor shortly after they blocked the cyber amendment: http://bit.ly/1QtQp1a

The Internal Revenue Service announced a new round of steps to better protect against identity theft and fraud before the 2016 tax-filing season: http://bit.ly/1QT7I6y

House lawmakers voted to further rein in the nation’s spies on Thursday, in a signal that legislators aren’t yet done reforming surveillance law: http://bit.ly/1FMTfUF

At least one organization is disputing the claims that the OPM hack hit all federal workers: http://bit.ly/1QT8aln

The Senate Appropriations Committee advanced a $51.1 billion bill to fund the Commerce and Justice Departments, both critical to federal cybersecurity efforts: http://bit.ly/1I9wElC