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WASHINGTON – Yesterday, in a House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense hearing regarding the full FY2020 Department of Defense (Department) Budget, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) pushed Acting Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan, on the Department’s “Make or Buy” Guidance and how it relates to the work of the Rock Island Arsenal. She also questioned him on the Department’s cybersecurity capacities to protect against election interference.
“Ensuring we have a strong defense from threats abroad begins with the actions we take here at home,” said Congresswoman Bustos, a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. “In our region, the Rock Island Arsenal is an excellent example of how our workforce can be utilized to ensure our service members have the best resources to fulfill their duties. However, protecting our nation also goes beyond the equipment used by our troops – that fact became abundantly clear after cyberattacks during the past two elections. This isn’t about partisanship – it’s about patriotism and protecting our democracy. That’s why I’ll do everything in my power to ensure the sanctity of our elections are upheld and voters have full confidence in the ballots they cast.”
Congresswoman Bustos addressed a report released by the Department last September which highlighted the need to sustain organic industrial base elements, such as the Rock Island Arsenal, to respond to supply chain vulnerability. In particular, Congresswoman Bustos sought information as to how the Department is using “Make or Buy” Guidance in response to the needs and challenges detailed in the report. Congresswoman Bustos also invited the Acting Secretary to visit the Rock Island Arsenal in order to see their operations firsthand and how products are constructed here at home.
Additionally, Congresswoman Bustos pressed Acting Secretary Shanahan on the $9.6 billion the Department requested in their budget to support increased cyber warfare capacity given the fact that foreign entities meddled in our elections both in 2016 and 2018. As a result, Congresswoman Bustos sought details as to how this funding will grow capacity at the Department to combat efforts or threats to hack from foreign adversaries and ensure our elections are free and fair.
Threats of foreign interference in our elections remain prevalent according to F.B.I. director, Christopher Wray, who referred to previous meddling as “a dress rehearsal for the big show in 2020.”
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