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 McConnellTrump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans Schumer briefs Democrats on impeachment trial 'mechanics' Trump legal team gears up for Senate impeachment trial in meeting with GOP senators 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).

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.

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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 LeahyRepublicans raise concerns over Trump pardoning service members Lawmakers bypass embattled Mulvaney in spending talks Warren bill would revoke Medals of Honor for Wounded Knee massacre MORE (D-Vt.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenTrump escalates fight over tax on tech giants Trump administration proposes tariffs on .4B in French goods Democratic congressman calls for study of effects of sex-trafficking law 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 McCainLessons of the Kamala Harris campaign Overnight Defense: Trump clashes with Macron at NATO summit | House impeachment report says Trump abused power | Top Dem scolds military leaders on Trump intervention in war crimes cases Top Armed Services Democrat scolds military leaders on Trump's intervention in war crimes cases MORE (R-Ariz.) to withdraw the amendment.

Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidDoctors are dying by suicide every day and we are not talking about it Impeachment trial throws curveball into 2020 race Harry Reid: Early voting states Iowa, New Hampshire 'not representative of the country anymore' 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 CornynPush to investigate Bidens sets up potential for Senate turf war Pressure grows on House GOP leaders to hold line ahead of impeachment trial GOP senators warn Trump trade deal will go into 2020 if deal not reached this week 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