Prospects for cybersecurity legislation dimmed
considerably late Tuesday after it appeared a compromise could not be reached
on S. 3414, the Cybersecurity Act of 2012.
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
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.
in the day, Democrat after Democrat rose to describe the bill as a reasonable
compromise already, and one in need of passage this week.
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
that action appeared unlikely after McConnell reportedly threatened to
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.
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
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.
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.
backers continued to maintain that the standards in the newest version of the
bill were entirely voluntary.