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Warner wants election-hacking to warrant a US cyber response

Sen. Mark Warner wants to add election-hacking to a proposed US policy outlining when and how the US should respond to cyber attacks.

The Virginia Democrat is submitting an amendment to the Senate’s National Defense Authorization Act that would add cyber attacks on federal, state and local elections to a policy that declares the US should “employ all instruments of national power, including the use of offensive cyber capabilities,” to respond to cyber threats to US interests, according to a copy of the legislation obtained by CNN.

Warner’s amendment would add election-hacking to a US policy on “cyberspace, cybersecurity and cyber warfare” in the defense authorization bill spearheaded by Senate armed services chairman John McCain. The new cyber policy, which will still have to be reconciled with the House’s defense bill, also includes cyber attacks causing casualties, significant disruptions to critical infrastructure and threats to the command and control of the US military as reasons for a US cyber response.

“We still have a President that fails to fully acknowledge the fact that Russia attacked our country, threatened to undermine our democratic process. The Congress needs to continue to send clear signals,” Warner said of President Donald Trump in an interview.

“This is an area that still needs further refinement — I don’t believe we have a really fully thought-through cyber doctrine,” Warner added. “But any such doctrine such include the sanctity of the electoral process.”

It’s still unclear what will happen to Warner’s amendment, which he plans to file later Thursday.

The NDAA is up in the air as the Senate debates health care. McCain, who would lead floor debate, is pushing for the Senate to take up the bill on Friday and possibly into the weekend.

But Democrats may not agree to such quick consideration of the $700 billion bill that authorizes military funding and sets Pentagon policy. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he would be willing to move on to the NDAA — but only if Republicans moved health care through regular order.

“It’s unfair in my judgment, and I have great respect, to ask for one and then continue to tie our hands on reconciliation on health care,” Schumer said.

If the Senate does not take up the defense bill this week, it’s expected to slip until after the August recess.