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Press Release Published: Nov 16, 2021

Comer: Ransomware Attacks Wreak Havoc on Americans’ Daily Lives

Calls for discussion on efforts to disrupt attacks and urges Democrats to hold more hearings on the many issues facing Americans

WASHINGTON—House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) opened today’s hearing on “Cracking Down on Ransomware: Strategies for Disrupting Criminal Hackers and Building Resilience Against Cyber Threats” by emphasizing how these attacks have the ability to disrupt Americans’ daily lives and called for solutions to disrupt and protect Americans from the consequences of successful ransomware attacks.

In his opening statement, Ranking Member Comer also underscored the importance of calling Biden Administration witnesses to testify before the committee about waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement occurring on their watch. Oversight Committee Republicans have written to Chairwoman Maloney over 20 times requesting hearings, investigations, and briefings on the many issues facing Americans, but she has ignored all of the requests. Ranking Member Comer concluded by calling on the committee to get back to its mission and conduct oversight on the many issues facing Americans today.

Below are Ranking Member Comer’s remarks as prepared for delivery.

“This year, we have seen an uptick in major ransomware attacks that have the ability to wreak havoc on Americans’ everyday lives.

“In March, CNA financial, one of the largest commercial insurers in the United States, was subject to a ransomware attack and paid $40 million to unlock its network. In May, Colonial Pipeline, one of the largest pipelines in the eastern United States, paid $4.4 million in cryptocurrency to retrieve its data following a ransomware attack. In June, JBS USA, one of the country’s largest meatpackers, paid a ransom of $11 million to the hackers.

“These companies made these decisions to pay the ransoms because they did not want to disrupt the supply chain. The FBI’s official policy is not to advise companies whether or not to pay these ransoms. During our many briefings with these companies, this is indeed the FBI’s position they took during their negotiations with the ransomware attackers.

“Even the FBI, the top law enforcement agency tasked with fighting cybercrime, is not immune from cyberattacks. Over the weekend, hackers accessed the FBI’s external email system and spammed potentially thousands of people and companies by issuing a fake warning of a cyberattack.

“Hackers’ ability to penetrate the FBI’s systems could create catastrophic consequences and chaos. We need to hear from the FBI today on their efforts disrupt and protect Americans from these cyberattacks.

“I am pleased that we have one witness here today, Chris Inglis, who is Senate-confirmed, to discuss how we can disrupt cyber threats to better protect Americans from the devastating consequences of successful ransomware attacks.

“Unfortunately, this is only the second Senate-confirmed witness this Committee has had this entire year. That is far below what is normal for this Committee.

“Unfortunately, the Oversight Committee under Democrat leadership refuses to call witnesses from the Biden Administration and hold them accountable for waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement occurring on their watch.

“Today is the Committee’s first hearing since the citizens in Virginia sent a very loud message to the Biden Administration. And that message to President Biden: no more. The American people oppose the Biden Administration’s radical, left-wing policies and are already seeking change

“President Biden and Congressional Democrats’ actions to spend trillions of taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars on a socialist agenda have backfired. President Biden is now more unpopular with the American public than nearly any other president at this point in history.

“Not only that, but over two-thirds of Americans think this country, under President Biden’s leadership, is headed in the wrong direction. People are appropriately comparing President Biden to President Carter.

“President Biden’s policies and decisions have created numerous crises that impact American’s daily lives.

“Gasoline is now 61 percent higher than it was this time last year. 

“Inflation is at a 30-year high, causing families to struggle with how to pay for meat, milk, eggs, and other necessities.

“This year, Thanksgiving is set to be more expensive than ever. The price for a 16-pound turkey is up 18 percent.

“There’s chaos at our ports, with ships lining up but nowhere to deliver the goods. And to add insult to injury, certain networks are criticizing truck drivers—the essential workers who have been shipping goods throughout the pandemic.

“A record number of illegal immigrants were apprehended at our southern border this year. And the surge continues because of this administration’s pro-illegal immigrant agenda. This is not to mention the drugs flowing across the border.

“The Biden Administration has directed law enforcement to go after parents they deem ‘domestic terrorists,’ but these parents are only concerned about radical curriculum being taught in our children’s schools.

“At the same time, the Biden Administration turned a blind eye to real terrorists in Afghanistan who seek to harm women, children, and U.S. troops. The Biden Administration’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan has left a national security and humanitarian crisis in its wake. 

“And sadly, this Committee is ignoring all of it.

“Committee Republicans have written to the Chairwoman over 20 times requesting hearings, investigations, and briefings on many of these topics and more. These issues are core to our committee’s mission of rooting out waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in the federal government. But the Chairwoman has ignored all of our requests.

“We are the People’s House. We must be responsive to the needs and demands of American citizens. But this Committee under Democrat leadership refuses to do its job.

“It is no wonder this Committee has received an “F” grade for how it has conducted oversight from a non-profit organization.

“It’s past time for this committee to get back to its mission and conduct oversight on the many issues facing Americans today. The American people demand it, and they deserve nothing less.”