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Last attempt at Senate cybersecurity bill fails

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A last attempt this Congress to pass a cybersecurity bill in the Senate failed Nov. 14 when less than a supermajority of lawmakers voted to invoke cloture, a necessary step before the bill can come to the floor. Lawmakers voted 51-47 for cloture, but with Republican senators voting against, consideration of a cybersecurity measure will likely have to wait until a bill can be reintroduced following the Jan. 3 convening of the 113th Congress.

At immediate issue Nov. 14 was the number of amendments senators would be able to propose. "We are seeking like five amendments," said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), sponsor of a rival bill (S. 3342) and champion of a comparatively smaller role for the federal government in overseeing the security of critical infrastructure networked systems.

Bill co-sponsor Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would be willing to allow amendments. "He said that if we invoke cloture tonight, he will allow a finite number of amendments," Lieberman said. "So I would ask my colleagues, give it a chance, and let's vote for cloture. I am sure Senator Reid will allow five amendments," he added right before the motion came up for vote.

Lieberman didn't run for re-election and had hoped to secure passage of his bill before his term runs out.

Congressional inaction has already spurred the Obama administration to consider issuing a cybersecurity executive order that would mandate a role for the federal government in critical infrastructure protection. On Oct. 25, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said President Obama had yet to review it.    

However, the Washington Post reports that Obama has already signed in mid-October a secret directive that establishes guidelines for defensive and offensive cyber operations.

For more:
- go to the THOMAS page for S. 3342
- read the Washington Post article

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