CQ TODAY ONLINE NEWS
Updated July 26, 2012 – 3:56 p.m.
Senate Sets Up Cybersecurity Clash
By Tim Starks and Emily Holden, CQ Staff
Competing visions of cybersecurity legislation will duke it out on the Senate floor next week now that the chamber has finally agreed to debate a bill. But senators also continue to try to hammer out a compromise agreement behind closed doors.
The Senate on Thursday agreed by a vote of 84-11 to proceed to debate on a cybersecurity bill (
Meanwhile, outside groups are sharing their own visions of what the bill should, or shouldn’t, include.
The vote to proceed followed days of hurried negotiations over key sticking points.
“The conversations are very productive,”
The Senate was expected to hold the cloture vote Friday, but leaders came to a last-minute agreement to hold it a day early, even though the various Senate factions have not yet struck an agreement to ensure the legislation’s passage.
Kyl, along with several Republicans, said he would vote to support at least a floor debate on the assumption that Majority Leader
For days, Reid has expressed his willingness to allow consideration of relevant amendments.
“Let’s have as many amendments as people feel appropriate,” Reid said on the floor earlier Thursday. “National security experts agree; we can’t afford to waste more time. The question is not whether we should act, but whether we’ll act in time.”
Kyl is part of a group that has been working to broker an agreement between the sponsors of the main bill and a faction of Republicans who strongly oppose it and have their own proposal.
But it’s not clear whether Kyl and others will support the main bill in its current form, even though the sponsors of that legislation included language proposed by Kyl and his bipartisan group. That proposal removes all mandatory security standards for owners of the most vital digital infrastructure, replacing it with a more voluntary system that relies on incentives to get industry to meet security standards.
Other critics of the bill plan amendments as well, and several lawmakers remain concerned about the bill’s potential impact on the privacy of U.S. citizens whose data is shared between the federal government and businesses as part of a threat information exchange initiative.
Senate Sets Up Cybersecurity Clash
White House, Outside Groups Weigh In
Also Thursday, several outside groups, along with the White House, weighed in on the bill, and senators began streaming to the floor to stake out positions.
“While lacking some of the key provisions of earlier bills, the revised legislation will provide important tools to strengthen the nation’s response to cybersecurity risks,” a White House Statement of Administration Policy said. “The legislation also reflects many of the priorities included in the administration’s legislative proposal.”
The White House signaled it would oppose any amendments to expand liability protections beyond those in the bill for companies that share threat data with the federal government, reduce the Department of Homeland Security’s statutory authority on cybersecurity, or further weaken the federal government’s authorities under the bill to coordinate or endorse security standards for critical infrastructure.
Two technology industry giants, IBM Corp. and Microsoft Corp., came down on opposite sides of the debate Thursday, with IBM opposing it and Microsoft supporting it.
IBM wants expanded liability protection and freer communication between businesses and the Defense Department than the bill would allow. It also said the voluntary standards aren’t what they seem.
“While private industry would provide limited and nonbinding advice, a council of federal agencies would have the final say on setting cybersecurity performance requirements, and those standards would quickly become mandatory in practice,” Christopher A. Padilla, IBM’s vice president of governmental programs, wrote. “Moreover, the process of deciding which sectors are to be covered by such government-sponsored requirements is open-ended and poorly defined.”
Said Fred Humphries, Microsoft’s vice president of government affairs: “Microsoft believes
Responding to opposition from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the bill’s sponsor,
Despite disagreements on a variety of issues, the senators working to reach agreement on the underlying bill continued to express optimism that they can get something done.
“All the right people are in the room,” said
Even though the Senate is nearing its August recess, there is still time to reach a deal, said
Emily Holden contributed to this story.
First posted July 26, 2012 11:09 a.m.