Senate to take up cyber security bill

Those in support of the bill say it’s vital to national security.

“Failing to act on cybersecurity legislation not only puts our national security at risk, it recklessly endangers members of our armed forces and missions around the world,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said. “If we’re serious about protecting our troops, we must protect them against cyber attacks.”

The Senate will vote on a motion to end debate on a motion to proceed to the bill Friday, unless an agreement is reached sooner. In closing business Wednesday evening, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said leadership is hoping an agreement is reached to have a vote Thursday.

S. 3414 was introduced by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and is co-sponsored by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Whitehouse.

But not all Republicans support the measure. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) the bill is flawed and won’t pass in the House.

“The Major Leader intends to rush through the Senate a flawed piece of legislation,” McCain said Monday. “The cyber security bill is in great need of improvements … [and] it has zero chance of passing in the House of Representatives.”

McCain — who has a competing bill, the Secure It Act — said he thinks it’s far more important to pass the defense authorization bill than the Cybersecurity Act.

“Can’t we as a body for the sake of those men and women who’s lives are on the line pass a defense authorization bill,” McCain said. “For the life of me I do not understand why the Majority Leader should have so little regard for the men and women serving in the military today.”

Collins pushed back saying the Senate must act now.

“We must act and we must act now,” Collins said Wednesday. “We can’t afford to wait for a cyber 9/11 before taking action on this legislation.”

When originally proposed the bill got push back from industry groups and some lawmakers concerned about Internet privacy. But Collins said many changes have been made to the bill.

“We have revised our bill in a very substantial way,” Collins said citing that many of the standards related to the private sector are now optional. “This shows a willingness to adopt changes and we’re still open to changes.”

The Senate is adjourned until 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

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