POLITICS
01/05/2017 05:17 pm ET

John McCain To Create New Senate Cybersecurity Subcommittee

The panel will develop legislation to beef up security and respond to cyberattacks.

WASHINGTON ― Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) will create a new subcommittee focused on cybersecurity.

The panel, which McCain said will be created within the next several days, will draft legislation related to cybersecurity and call on the incoming Trump administration to develop a strategy to deter and respond to cyberattacks.

The Obama administration, McCain charged on Thursday, failed to develop a cohesive cyber strategy.  “They’ve reacted to every attack in a different way,” McCain said. “It’s just crazy.”

Cybersecurity currently falls under the purview of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats & Capabilities, which also oversees issues related to counterterrorism and weapons proliferation. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) will head the new subcommittee, McCain told reporters.

“He has some old pics of me so I have to do whatever he wants,” McCain joked about his longtime friend.

McCain and Graham have been two of the loudest voices within the Republican Party calling for a more aggressive response to the cyberattack against the Democratic National Committee, which intelligence officials say was directed by the Russian government.

President-elect Donald Trump has dismissed the intelligence community’s conclusion and suggested instead that the election meddling could have been carried out by China or “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.”

Last month, McCain and Graham  joined Democratic colleagues in calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to create a select committee to investigate cyberthreats from foreign adversaries.

McConnell rebuffed the request for a select committee, saying the Senate Intelligence Committee is “fully capable” of investigating the matter. Former Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told HuffPost last month that relegating the investigation to the committee could be an effort by McConnell to slow down the probe.  

As chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, McCain doesn’t need approval from McConnell to create a new subcommittee. He told reporters on Thursday that he still favors the creation of a select committee, if McConnell ever changes his mind.

McCain is currently working with Ben Cardin, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to draft new sanctions legislation targeting Russia in response to the DNC hack.

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