On Day 112, the White House scrambled to do something on cybersecurity while lobbying for a massive infrastructure bill that doesn’t secure much.
Biden Issues Cybersecurity EO, Colonial Pays Ransom.
At the beginning of the week, the White House called the results of the Colonial Pipeline shutdown a “crunch,” not a “shortage.” By Wednesday, officials were describing measure to “mitigate,” “alleviate,” and “address” … shortages.
“On Monday, we said—on Monday afternoon, so 48 hours ago, we said, ‘At this moment, there is not a supply shortage,'” press secretary Jen Psaki said. “That was accurate at this moment. We also said that we are continuing to monitor very closely what the impact will be.”
President Joe Biden signed an executive order Wednesday calling on the federal government and the private sector to better secure systems against “persistent and increasingly sophisticated malicious cyber campaigns” that threaten U.S. national security. One hour earlier, Colonial Pipeline had announced that it would be restarting operations at 5:00 p.m. on May 12. It has since come to light that Colonial paid nearly $5 million in ransom to the hacker group DarkSide.
Biden Meets With “Big Four.”
Biden met for the first time with the congressional “Big Four” on Wednesday: Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, House speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer.
“Generically, I’m encouraged that there is room to have a compromise on a bipartisan bill that’s solid and significant, and a means by which to pay for it without dropping all of the burden on middle-class and working-class people,” Biden said of the meeting. “Look, what’s the one thing people are concerned about with the gas? Gasoline prices going up. . . If everything is paid for by a user fee, well, then, you know, the burden falls on working-class folks who are having trouble. . . This has to be a burden shared across the spectrum.” Republicans’ $568 billion counteroffer to Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan proposed user fees, rather than a corporate tax hike, to fund projects that adhere to the traditional definition of “infrastructure”: roads, bridges, airports, and the like.
McConnell called revisiting former president Donald Trump’s 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act a “red line.”
“We’re not interested in re-opening the 2017 tax bill. We both made that clear to the president. That is a red line,” McConnell said to reporters after the Oval Office meeting.
On MSNBC, Biden Asked What He’d Say If Late Son Were With Him Today.
A Wednesday evening broadcast called “Vaccinating America: An MSNBC Town Hall” concluded with a bizarrely emotional line of questioning when Lawrence O’Donnell asked the president what he would say if his late son Beau Biden called “and said, ‘Hey, Pop, how’s it going?'”
Visibly welling up, Biden replied, “He’d say, ‘Dad, look at me.’ I’d give him my word. ‘Dad, look at me. Remember, home base. Home base. Be who you are.’ The one thing that I’d hope that he would say is, ‘Dad, your home base, you’re sticking to it. Some things are worth losing over, old buddy.’ I haven’t done this, this long to die now—to do things that I don’t — I don’t believe.”
A moment later, the president added, “You always catch me off guard with Beau. God love him. He should be sitting in this chair right now.”
Wednesday’s Most Quotable.
Biden to press: “You guys are bad. I’m not supposed to be answering all these questions. I’m supposed to leave, but I can’t resist your questions.”