McConnell breathes life back into Senate cyber bill

Thursday - 11/15/2012, 8:12pm EST

The leading Senate Republican is breathing new life into getting a comprehensive cybersecurity bill passed this year.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ken.) said on the Senate floor that he expects to bring the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 back up for consideration with amendments after the Senate completes work on the Defense Authorization and Intelligence Authorization bills.

"The Senate will hopefully move to a full and open debate of the National Defense Authorization Act," he said. "During the time that the bill is considered on the floor, and I do expect that bill to be subject to an open amendment process, my hope is that the Majority Leader [Harry Reid] will work with me to reach an agreement on allowing a debate on cybersecurity legislation with Republican amendments in order, especially since the ranking members of the Armed Services, Intelligence, Commerce, and Judiciary committees are all co-sponsors of a cybersecurity bill that needs to be considered as part of this debate."

Reid pronounced the bill dead Wednesday night after the Senate failed to end cloture by getting 60 votes. The motion to end cloture passed, but only 51 to 47 — it needed a three-fifths majority to end the filibuster threat.

McConnell reiterated the need to have a full and open debate on the cyber bill, and let lawmakers contemplate amendments.

During the cloture debate, the Democrats were willing to allow amendments. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), who is a main author of the bill, said Reid was open to a limited amount of amendments, less than 15.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he thinks there is a way to get the bill through the process.

"I still believe if we could have, say, five amendments, that could be voted on and debated, I think we could move forward with this bill. I really believe that," McCain said. "I would like to see right after the vote if we could reach some agreement between the leaders and ourselves that there would be five pending amendments and we could vote on those. I think we have some very significant differences, but the chairman and two co-chairs have worked incredibly hard on this issue and they deserve debate. I hope they would understand we are seeking like five amendments."

But despite this agreement on amendments, there were too many other concerns and not enough support to get to 60 votes.

A blog post by the Heritage Foundation's David Inserra said part of the reason the motion to end cloture didn't get passed is there are too many questions about the regulatory process outlined in the bill and not enough was done to alleviate long-standing concerns about issues such as information sharing.

Inserra said the Obama administration should not issue the planned executive order on cyber.

"[T] he administration should focus on more nimble and less costly solutions, such as information sharing," he wrote. "Information sharing provides the government and the private sector with up-to-date warnings against cyber threats and vulnerabilities while costing nearly nothing. Since both the Senate and House agreed that information sharing is important, sharing, not regulation, should serve as the basis for a meaningful and bipartisan cybersecurity bill during the next Congress."

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TAG: Technology Congress Mitch McConnell Cybersecurity Heritage David Inserra John McCain Joseph Lieberman Information sharing Regulations Jason Miller