Cybersecurity bill won't advance in Senate
The Senate will leave for its summer recess without acting on the Lieberman-Collins cybersecurity bill, the chamber having fallen short Aug. 2 of the 60 votes necessary to end debate.
Senators voted 52-47 for cloture on the bill (S. 3414), attaining fewer than the supermajority the bill required to move forward. The failure casts doubt on the likelihood of the Senate acting on any cybersecurity bill until after the next election.
"Republicans are running like a pack of scared cats," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on the floor before the vote, reports the National Journal. "We know how important this legislation is, we know it's more important than getting a pat on the back from Chamber of Commerce," he added, alluding to opposition from some private sector interests.
"No one doubts the needs to strengthen our cyber defenses," Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also said on the Senate floor before the vote, The Hill reports. "We all recognize the problem, that's really not the issue here. It's the matter that the majority leader has tried to steamroll a bill."
Reaction to the failure has been swift, with the Information Technology Industry Council issuing a statement calling the vote a "lost opportunity." The American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement that the bill in its current shape contains several pro-privacy measures that "should remain the vanguard for any future bills."
The vote comes after White House urging for bill passage. During an Aug. 1 press call, Gen. Keith Alexander, commander of Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, said the dangers to critical infrastructure are growing. "We believe we need this legislation to help us do our mission," he said, citing what he said is a 20-fold increase in attacks on critical infrastructure from 2009 through 2011.
However, that increase isn't necessarily a measure of an increase in successful attacks, clarified Jane Holl Lute, Homeland Security Department deputy secretary. The increase is a measure of when "someone tried to get into the system, or system administrators noticed anomalous behavior--unauthorized access or attempts at unauthorized access," Lute said.
During the call, Alexander said that the bill's proposal to make the Homeland Security Department the lead agency for public and private cyber threat information sharing would permit the Defense Department to receive real-time threat information without compromising the public's privacy.
Eric Rosenbach, deputy assistant secretary of defense for cyber policy, also said urgency around the bill is necessary, invoking a well-worn trope to do so. "We don't want this to be the next Pearl Harbor, and there's something that we can do about that in this legislation now," he said.
- listen to the Aug. 1 press call with administration officials
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