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McSally on cyber threats, Russia probe, health care

Posted at 8:13 PM, May 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-15 23:13:05-04

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - This weekend's world wide cyber attack adds an extra urgency to a research trip Congresswoman Martha McSally just took to Eastern Europe.  She believes that area has a lot to teach the U.S. on how to defend against cyberattacks.

As a member of the House Homeland Security Committee Martha McSally visited Poland, Estonia and the Ukraine.

Those countries spent the Cold War under Soviet domination.  

Since they became independent they have routinely come under Russian cyber attack.  She says ten years ago, the Russians used cyber attacks to disrupt Estonia's power grid--and cyber attacks still happen so often, Estonians volunteer their time to help defend critical systems.

"These partners could really teach us because they're seeing daily when they're under attack by Russian bad actors, they're seeing what tactics are being used, what codes are being used and they're on the front lines of the defenses against us and we have a lot to learn from them."

McSally says our government, companies, and citizens need to upgrade computers and software, and upgrade our own knowledge of how they work and how to defend against computer attacks.

McSally says Vladimir Putin directs Russia to use cyber attacks, and misinformation to throw countries off balance.

"When you have a country that's hit in critical infrastructure, taken out power grids, impacting their financial sector, impacting their economy, creating confusion and inability to have government services delivered to its people that's an attack."

McSally says one debate that's happening now is when is a cyber attack an act of war, and what's the appropriate way to fight back.

RUSSIA INVESTIGATION

McSally is not in favor of a special prosecutor for the Russia investigation--at least not yet.

She thinks it's best as a matter of faith in the FBI to let the bureau continue to lead the counterintelligence probe; but retain the option to call for a special prosecutor or special counsel if it seems justified later.

"The bipartisan Senate and House committees need to continue along with their investigations and I think we need to be providing oversight to that process and I think if at the appropriate time we feel like another entity needs to be involved then we need to call on that.  But I don't think we should be  undermining the professionals at the FBI; we need to let them do their job and make sure that we continue to have objectivity in the process and the way forward.  It's just too important."

Both McSally and Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva say the investigation of Russian interference in the election needs to continue but Grijalva thinks an independent counsel should lead the probe.

HEALTHCARE

Congresswoman McSally says the House needed to work fast on repealing and replacing Obamacare because it will still take time for a replacement system to begin bringing costs down.

She says she is trying to convince Senators improve the bill further as they consider their version.

Martha McSally knows critics of the repair and replace plan have members of Congress who voted for it in their sights.  But she says she is focused on covering pre-existing conditions at premiums people can afford.

"This is an emotional debate and there's a lot of vilification going on.  I have thick skin.  I can deal with it but I just home people would know that this is what I'm fighting for and will continue to as we move forward."

Critics complained House members approved their bill too hastily.  McSally says Congress needs to move fast because for premium prices to fall, the new system needs to be in place.  She says once it is, it will still take time for prices to stabilize.

"So there is a sense of urgency.  Because the status quo is not an option and there are certain timelines related to the 2018 insurance costs to my constituents.  It means we need to stop diddling around and actually get the legislative process going.  We still have to go through the Senate. We've got to get Senate changes back to the House and get it signed by the President.  This takes time."

And McSally says she hopes to convince Senators to remove part of the House bill that says if you let your health coverage lapse for roughly two months, you'd have to pay extra to get your coverage back again.