Why? Because I said so dammit! | attribution: AP
This lame duck could be getting interesting in a hurry, and maybe not setting up to be not much to Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell’s liking. Lindsey Graham and John McCain have both already come out demanding a Select Committee on cyber terrorism, and have been joined by Democratic incoming Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and RI Democrat Jack Reed. This is not what McConnell wants, he wants an already existing Senate committee, already under his thumb to investigate the Russian hacking to sweep it under the rug. It will be harder for him to keep control of a Select committee.
But there is now more pressure on McConnell to start just such a committee, if not an independent “9-11” style commission. Politico is reporting that Republican Senator Corey Gardner from Colorado announced that he will introduce legislation for a Senate Select committee to investigate the Russian election hacking as well has other cyber hacking threats to the U.S. by North Korea and Iran.
Corey Gardner is the critical cog here. Right now the GOP controls the Senate 52-48, it would take three GOP Senators flipping their votes to get the bill passed. If the Democrats are unified about this, then if Graham and McCain are resolute, and you toss Gardner’s “yes” vote in there, the bill will pass.
This is quite a step as Corey Gardner is very close to McConnell. As Polico reports it;
Gardner, who is close with McConnell, took pains to cast his proposal as far broader than the Russian hacking of U.S. election officials. His hope is to introduce the bill with bipartisan cosponsors early next year.
“From North Korea’s hack of Sony Pictures to Iran’s attack on a New York dam, it’s evident that we are facing a growing cybersecurity challenge. The nature and complexity of recent cyber-attacks require a whole of government approach to cyberspace and the development of federal policy to mitigate the threat and protect everything from personal information to the security of our critical infrastructure,” Gardner said in a statement.
This is an early test for McConnell. Other GOP Senators have been making noises about backing a Select committee, without actually proposing anything. If he loses on this Select committee, it could be read as an early indication that there are at least some GOP Senators out there who are not quite ready to just roll over and play dead for the Trump agenda. It could also come as a warning shot to Trump and McConnell that some of Trump’s cabinet picks who may have somewhat less than smooth sailings through the nomination process. Keep an eye out on how this comes out, it could be an early indicator of just how radical the Senate is preparing to go.