Lawmakers prioritizing cybersecurity in 115th Congress

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Questions over cyber hacking are lingering on Capitol Hill. As lawmakers form their agendas for the new Congress, members involved in cyber committees say they have a lot of work to do. Following allegations of Russian meddling in the election, lawmakers say preparation and prevention are crucial.

Congressman Ratcliffe (R-TX) says combatting cyber attacks begins with bolstering the cybersecurity workforce.

"We continue to see enormous challenges in cyber," said Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), co-chair of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus.

He says if Congress does not act, cyber attacks will get worse.

"We’ve got to do a better job of protecting our government," said Warner. "We’ve got to do a better job of all of us protecting our personal information."

Warner says the issue isn’t partisan. He also says if lawmakers fail to prioritize combating cyber attacks, he says it will take a toll on every American.

"We’ve got to realize whether it’s Russia or other foreign actors who are trying to both steal our personal information, steal our military secrets, and as we saw in the election, actually interfere in our basic democratic process," said Warner.

The agenda in the House is similar. Congressman John Ratcliffe (R-TX) says the main focus should be bolstering the cybersecurity workforce, and educating about the grave threat that cyber terror poses.

"Recent events happening around the world are really underscoring that we can talk about border security all we want, but it’s our digital borders that are at most threat right now," said Ratcliffe.

Ratcliffe chairs the House Subcommittee on Cybersecurity. He says lawmakers politicizing the Russian hacking is futile. His main concern is committees moving quickly before something similar happens again.

"Unfortunately there’s no silver bullet piece of legislation that’s going to make us secure," said Ratcliffe. "This is something where there has to be a dedicated effort really over the next few decades to make sure that we remain a cyber superpower."

Ratcliffe says his subcommittee plans to hold hearings in the coming months. He says he wants to hear testimony from administration officials on their cybersecurity plans.

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