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Lawmakers call for Trump to take action on massive government hack

Lawmakers call for Trump to take action on massive government hack
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Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle criticized President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump announces new tranche of endorsements DeSantis, Pence tied in 2024 Republican poll Lawmakers demand changes after National Guard troops at Capitol sickened from tainted food MORE for his ongoing silence on the massive suspected Russian hack of federal agencies this week, and urged him to sign the annual defense funding bill into law to take action immediately.

“It is extremely troubling that the President does not appear to be acknowledging, much less acting upon, the gravity of this situation,” Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley: YouTube to restore Trump's account | House-passed election bill takes aim at foreign interference | Senators introduce legislation to create international tech partnerships On The Money: Senate votes to take up COVID-19 relief bill | Stocks sink after Powell fails to appease jittery traders | February jobs report to provide first measure of Biden economy Senators introduce bill creating technology partnerships to compete with China MORE (D-Va.) said in a statement released Friday, accusing Trump and his administration of not taking the breach “seriously enough.”

As of Friday, almost a dozen federal agencies had reportedly been breached as part of the fallout from the nation state hack of IT company SolarWinds, which estimates around 18,000 of its customers have been compromised since March. 

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Agencies impacted include the Commerce, Homeland Security, State and Treasury departments, along with the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Agency.  

The Trump administration has taken steps to begin immediately responding to the breach, including standing up a cyber coordination group composed of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the FBI, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Trump’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien also cut short a trip earlier this week to return to the U.S. and address the crisis.

However, despite reportedly being briefed on the issue, Trump himself has not yet addressed the breach, which is already being hailed as one of the largest cyber espionage incidents in U.S. history. His silence became more noticeable Thursday, when President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenSenate holds longest vote in history as Democrats scramble to save relief bill Ex-Trump appointee arrested in Capitol riot complains he won't be able to sleep in jail Biden helps broker Senate deal on unemployment benefits MORE put out a statement vowing to make responding to the breach a “top priority” once in office. 

“An incident of this magnitude and lasting impact requires an engaged and public response by the U.S. government, led by a President who understands the significance of this intrusion and who is actively marshaling a domestic remediation strategy and an international response,” Warner said.  

Warner’s comments came the day after Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyDemocratic centrists flex power on Biden legislation Ron Johnson grinds Senate to halt, irritating many Romney's TRUST Act is a Trojan Horse to cut seniors' benefits MORE (R-Utah) criticized the silence from the White House during an interview on SiriusXM’s “The Big Picture with Olivier Knox.”

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“A cyber hack of this nature is really the modern equivalent of almost Russian bombers reportedly flying undetected over the entire country,” Romney said. “In this setting, not to have the White House aggressively speaking out and protesting and taking punitive action is really, really quite extraordinary.”

Various committees have leapt into action since Reuters first disclosed the wide-ranging breach earlier this week, with the incoming leaders of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee announcing Friday that they would hold hearings on the breach next year. 

The House Homeland Security and House Oversight and Reform Committees both received a classified briefing on the topic Friday, the day after the committees announced they were opening an investigation into the incident. 

Members emerged disgruntled over a lack of information and action from the White House.  

“I’m shocked,” House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn MaloneyDOJ declined to take up Chao ethics probe Government watchdog finds federal cybersecurity has 'regressed' in recent years Lawmakers line up behind potential cyber breach notification legislation MORE (D-N.Y.) told C-SPAN of Trump’s inaction. “I’m disappointed that he is not bringing the government together to respond to it to give information to the American people.”

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House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Increased security on Capitol Hill amid QAnon's March 4 date House passes voting rights and elections reform bill Lawmakers line up behind potential cyber breach notification legislation MORE (D-Miss.) cited the need for a cybersecurity coordinator at the White House, a position eliminated by former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonTrump offered North Korea's Kim a ride home on Air Force One: report Key impeachment figure Pence sticks to sidelines Bolton lawyer: Trump impeachment trial is constitutional MORE in 2018. 

“It’s clear in this situation that person would be ideal for us to be talking to,” Thompson told C-SPAN.

A provision to reestablish the cyber czar position has been included in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a sweeping defense funding bill that both chambers approved by bipartisan majorities. 

It includes a raft of other critical cybersecurity provisions, including provisions to strengthen CISA’s powers and national defense against cyberattacks.  

Trump has said repeatedly he intends to veto the bill over other concerns. Republicans this week made clear that after the SolarWinds breach, the NDAA must be signed into law.

“One of the immediate steps the Administration can take to improve our cyber posture is signing the NDAA into law,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense: Capitol Police may ask National Guard to stay | Biden's Pentagon policy nominee faces criticism | Naval Academy midshipmen moved to hotels Top Republican: 'Outrageous' to extend National Guard deployment at Capitol Republicans blast Pentagon policy nominee over tweets, Iran nuclear deal MORE (R-Okla.) and ranking member Jack ReedJack ReedOvernight Defense: Tim Kaine moves to claw back war powers authority | Study on sexual harassment and assault in the military Commissioners tasked with scrubbing Confederate base names sworn-in at first meeting CORRECTED: Overnight Defense: COVID-19 stymies effort to study sexual assault at military academies | Biden, Saudi king speak ahead of Khashoggi report MORE (D-R.I.) said in a joint statement on Thursday. “The NDAA is always ‘must-pass’ legislation – but this cyber incident makes it even more urgent that the bill become law without further delay.” 

Republican leaders of the House Armed Services Committee, including current ranking member Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryUnnamed law enforcement banned under the new NDAA Lobbying world Senate poised to override Trump's defense bill veto MORE (R-Texas) and incoming ranking member Mike RogersMichael (Mike) Dennis RogersOvernight Defense: Tim Kaine moves to claw back war powers authority | Study on sexual harassment and assault in the military Commissioners tasked with scrubbing Confederate base names sworn-in at first meeting China has already infiltrated America's institutions MORE (R-Ala.), put out a statement Friday lauding the cyber provisions, describing them as providing “critical safeguards” for national security. 

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate rejects Sanders minimum wage hike Murkowski votes with Senate panel to advance Haaland nomination OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior reverses Trump policy that it says restricted science | Collins to back Haaland's Interior nomination | Republicans press Biden environment nominee on Obama-era policy MORE (R-Maine) added to the pressure, tweeting Friday that “The President should immediately sign the NDAA not only to keep our military strong but also because it contains significant cyber security provisions that would help thwart future attacks.”

Beyond the NDAA, Democrats on Friday blasted Trump for not immediately springing into action to address the breach.

“The president should be all over it, it should be his first, second, third concern, the whole government should be all over it,"  Maloney said. "It’s deeply concerning, deeply distressing and a huge challenge for our country."