The gas may be flowing again, but the White House is more worried than it's letting on about the potential fallout of the Colonial Pipeline hack that caused fuel shortages and triggered price increases, Axios' Jonathan Swan and Alayna Treene have learned.
Behind the scenes: Senior Biden officials are acutely sensitive to the images of lines outside gas stations before Memorial Day — the typical launch to the summer driving season. Republicans also are jumping on the bandwagon, suggesting Joe Biden is a modern-day Jimmy Carter.
- Inflation seeping into the public consciousness and checkbook is giving legs to the attack.
- "I see that everybody is comparing Joe Biden to Jimmy Carter," former President Trump said in a statement Wednesday. "It would seem to me that is very unfair to Jimmy Carter. Jimmy mishandled crisis after crisis, but Biden has CREATED crisis after crisis."
- While the attempts to paint Biden as Carter are very real, a key difference with regard to the pipeline crisis is that gas disruptions in the 1970s happened in two waves, and lasted months. Colonial Pipeline announced Wednesday it was resuming its operations.
The big picture: Seeking to calm nerves on Capitol Hill, the White House took the unusual step of arranging for three Cabinet secretaries to brief Congress on the Colonial ransomware attack.
- The White House's "bipartisan member briefing" on the cyberattack was to be held at 6pm today, according to an invitation reviewed by Axios.
- Briefers included Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.
What they're saying: Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a close friend of the president, nodded when Axios asked whether the White House is more concerned about the situation regarding the Colonial Pipeline than it's letting on.
- He then said: "I think there's more we can and should do."
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), who's been a leading voice in Congress on the issue, sees a rare opportunity for bipartisan cooperation.
- He said he wants to partner with Republicans and the appropriate committees on legislation forcing critical infrastructure companies to report cyberattacks to a public-private entity in near real time.
- Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said that while she “absolutely” thinks the White House "could be doing much more,” she hopes the hack serves as "a wake-up call to policymakers."