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White House, Team Boehner Trade Barbs on Cybersecurity (Video)

Boehner speaks to reporters the same week the House passed two cybersecurity bills (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Boehner speaks to reporters the same week the House passed two cybersecurity bills (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The White House says Congress hasn’t “done a single thing” to stop cyberattacks; House GOP leadership begs to differ.  

On Friday, in the wake of revelations that a major cybersecurity breach of records at the Office of Personnel Management compromised personal information of millions of current and former federal employees, White House press secretary Josh Earnest put the onus on Capitol Hill to pass legislation to prevent future episodes. “The fact is, we need the United States Congress to come out of the dark ages and actually join us here in the 21st century to make sure we have the kind of defenses that are necessary to protect a modern computer system,” Earnest told reporters. “We have not seen that kind of action in the United States Congress.”  

A few hours later, Cory Fritz, spokesman for Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, shot back with a withering response. “Where is the leadership?” said Fritz in his blast statement. “The federal government has just been hit by one of the largest thefts of sensitive data in history, and this White House is trying to blame anyone but itself.  

“It’s disgusting,” he said.  

Fritz went on to note in his email to reporters Friday afternoon that the House passed two cybersecurity bills in April: One from the Intelligence Committee to allow private companies to share information about cyber threats, and the other from the Homeland Security Committee to allow private companies to share word of cyber-threats with the federal government.  

Further, while the White House expressed reservations about some of these bills’ provisions, the administration explicitly endorsed both for passage.  

It’s not known whether either of those bills, even if they’d been passed by the Senate and signed by President Barack Obama, would have prevented the OPM breach.  

Steven T. Dennis contributed to this report.

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