Reid Invokes Cloture As Cybersecurity Bill Prospects Dim
Thursday will be decision day, says co-sponsor Lieberman
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 7/31/2012 7:44:56 PM
Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) invoked cloture to move to consideration of germane and relevant amendments, while Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters cybersecurity legislation was still several weeks away, but not this week. The Senate is scheduled to exit at the end of the week for its August recess
Bill co-sponsor Joe Lieberman (Ind. Conn.) began the day optimistically, and even in the late afternoon Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Del.), labeled one of the peacemakers trying to reach compromise, said they were "tantalizingly close" and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), said he was very hopeful. But by then Lieberman had turned pessimistic, a pessimism that was punctuated by Reid's announcement that he was invoking cloture after it appeared compromise was not in the cards.
Earlier in the day, Democrat after Democrat rose to describe the bill as a reasonable compromise already, and one in need of passage this week.
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) said that even if the House did not vote before the August recess, they could begin informal conferencing during the recess if the Senate would act.
But that action appeared unlikely after McConnell reportedly threatened to filibuster.
The cloture vote will come Thursday, said Lieberman, who added that he hoped both sides would continue to talk Wednesday. He said that vote would be "decision day" for the Senate, the choice being to vote to at least allow consideration of the bill and germane and relevant amendments, or to signal that they were only willing to take exactly what they wanted and run the risk of a major cyber attack or major cyber theft.
S. 3414 provides for a private, industry-government collaboration on setting cybersecurity standards, which bill sponsors say are voluntary and critics say might not stay that way. It also provides for sharing cyber threat info among critical infrastructure providers, like telecom companies, and with the government, including liability immunity from suits related to breaches and attacks.
With communications systems among the critical infrastructure targeted by the bill, cable operators have a stake in the outcome. The National Cable & Telecommunications Association has not commented on the bill, though it does support a Republican version, the SECURE IT Act, which focuses on info sharing.
Behind the scenes, some cable ops were pushing back on bill provisions establishing a "voluntary" cybersecurity standards regime that would encourage agencies like the FCC to make them mandatory.
Bill backers continued to maintain that the standards in the newest version of the bill were entirely voluntary.
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