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Buttigieg labels infrastructure a national security issue

Buttigieg labels infrastructure a national security issue
© Greg Nash

Transportation Secretary Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegHigh-speed rail getting last minute push in Congress Buttigieg: Bipartisan deal on infrastructure 'strongly preferred' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden ends infrastructure talks with key Republican | Colonial Pipeline CEO grilled over ransomware attack | Texas gov signs bills to improve power grid after winter storm MORE pointed to a ransomware attack on a major U.S. pipeline providing energy to much of the East Coast as he suggested funding the country's infrastructure needs amounts to a national security issue. 

"The truth is that having excellent, modern infrastructure has always, always been a national security issue," Buttigieg said on Monday. "We need to spend and invest for national security reasons on making sure we have the greatest and best technology."

Part of "what makes America great," Buttigieg added, is "being a step ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to technology and innovation ... that's all part of the jobs plan."

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A breach over the weekend of Colonial Pipeline’s IT system shut down thousands of miles of pipeline as officials raced to make sure hackers, believed to be operating in Eastern Europe, did not compromise its operational technology.

Tobias Whitney, vice president of energy security solutions at Fortress Information Security, told The Hill on Monday the incident should be “eye-opening” for the companies that maintain critical infrastructure in the U.S. 

“It’s a wake-up call to the rest of all the critical infrastructure industries to really make sure we are not just giving lip service to these issues, that there are actual detailed, nuanced controls we are implementing to thwart these kinds of events,” Whitney said. 

The White House, meanwhile, is trying to convince Republican members in Congress to fund President BidenJoe BidenSchumer vows to advance two-pronged infrastructure plan next month Biden appoints veteran housing, banking regulator as acting FHFA chief Iran claims U.S. to lift all oil sanctions but State Department says 'nothing is agreed' MORE's $2.25 trillion spending proposal for infrastructure. 

The top Republicans in both chambers have balked at that figure and dismissed the president's bill as packed with pet projects. They have insisted Democrats and the White House should focus instead on so-called hard infrastructure — funding for public works like the nation's roads, tunnels and bridges. 

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Over the weekend, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCan Manchin answer his predecessor's call on voting rights? Biden at Sen. John Warner's funeral: He 'gave me confidence' Democrats' narrow chance to retain control after 2022 MORE (R-Ky.) signaled he would be open to a spending package totaling as much as $800 billion. 

"The proper price tag for what most of us think of as infrastructure is about six to 800 billion dollars," McConnell said before adding: "The best way to pay for infrastructure is with the people who use it." 

Biden, Buttigieg and other Cabinet members have spent the last several weeks pitching the spending proposal to the American people through public events, appearances on Sunday morning news programs and through advertising campaigns. 

“What I’m proposing is badly needed and able to be paid for and still grow — trickle down ain’t working very well, man,” Biden said at an event in Louisiana last week. “We’ve got to build from the bottom up and the middle out. That’s how we built America.”

Biden is set to meet with lawmakers at the White House this week to discuss infrastructure spending. He met one-on-one late Monday with moderate Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinSchumer vows to advance two-pronged infrastructure plan next month Senators say White House aides agreed to infrastructure 'framework' Briahna Joy Gray: Biden is keeping the filibuster to have 'a Joe Manchin presidency' MORE (D-W.Va.), who is seen as a critical swing vote for both parties in the new Congress.