The start of this new legislative session was delayed due to the anti-establishment movement that sought to obstruct what would have been a straightforward election of Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., as House Speaker.
Once the session opened, it was reported by news outlets that several new bills had been introduced which were seen as concessions made to conservative hardliners who had initially opposed the House Speaker. Though these bills have little chance of passing through the Democratic-led Senate, they still serve as evidence of the “resistance GOP’s” impact on mainstream or "establishment" Republicans.
It is unlikely that the Democrat-controlled Senate will pass legislation to countermand any part of the "Inflation Reduction Act" or back Senator Josh Hawley's, R-Mo., PELOSI (Preventing Elected Leaders from Owning Securities and Investments) Act, since it requires bipartisan support. Therefore, President Biden will unlikely receive a bill on his desk related what can only be called these GOP "Hail Marys."
But if ever there was an issue that could bring together legislators of all parties and across both chambers, it is shoring up America's inadequate cyberdefenses. This should be a priority for all members of the D.C. community to address.
In 2022, a large number of ransomware and other cyber attacks, many that were suspected to be state-sponsored, occurred, with the Ukraine War being one of the most prominent sources. These hacking incidents highlighted the severity of cyber threats and their ongoing effects on the world.
In the early weeks of 2023, ransomware attacks that have affected the hospital and financial services industries have occurred. Despite the fact that overall ransomware attacks affecting businesses went down by 61 percent in 2022, the average American is being targeted with countless new malware variants every week. This puts national security at risk and calls for increased vigilance from Congress to protect America's cybersecurity.
Individuals without the benefit of an in-house IT services are increasingly vulnerable to malicious online Ransomware gangs and escalating numbers of new adware variants. These threats can have significant financial and security implications for those impacted.
But despite frequent discussions of the threats posed by hackers in Congress, an investigation conducted by States Newsroom recently revealed that 32 members of Congress — 31 Democrats and 1 independent — were using TikTok as of early January.
Given the potential security risks posed by TikTok, it is concerning that members of Congress are using the app on their personal devices.
In China, where TikTok and its parent company ByteDance are based, laws grant the government legal access to any data held by these companies. This can potentially put American security at risk as legislators become increasingly vulnerable to foreign interference.
Approximately half of the Congress members reported to have maintained their TikTok accounts as of early January have either held or currently hold positions in congressional committees responsible for handling matters related to foreign affairs, military, and national security.
Notable congressional TikTokers include Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. In the case of Booker for instance, his appointment to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee likely gives him access to sensitive information.
The data collected by TikTok, including location data, contacts, and browsing histories, can be used to track the movements of U.S. officials and even potentially expose them to extortion plots from foreign entities. This could potentially put members of Congress at risk, as well as pose a threat to national security.
The fact that the irresponsible behavior and potential risk to American cybersecurity is primarily concentrated among Democrats and one Independent should not be overlooked by voters, and these individuals must be held accountable at the ballot box. It is essential that their actions are taken seriously, to ensure our nation's safety and security and to send a message that irresponsibility from members of Congress will not be tolerated.
The TikTok revelations come to light as the special counsel investigation into President Biden’s mishandling of classified documents begins to heat up, and as a result, the Republicans seem to be getting more and more bulletin board material to take into the coming 2024 election cycle.
The “adults in the room” seem to have a bad habit of continuously compromising national security. From Hillary Clinton’s unsecured private server, to Joe Biden selling off our strategic oil reserves and his ongoing classified documents scandal, and now this TikTok fiasco, it seems that America may never have been in more immediate danger than in this very moment in history.
Julio Rivera is a small business consultant, political activist, writer, and editorial director. He has been a regular contributor to Newsmax since 2016, on both its web pages and television network. His commentary has also appeared in The Hill, The Washington Times, The Washington Examiner, American Thinker, The Toronto Sun, and more. Read Julio Rivera's Reports — More Here.
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