Reid says amendments will be accepted on cybersecurity bill

Reid said he hopes he and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) can agree to proceed to the bill Thursday; if not, a vote to proceed to the bill will take place Friday morning.

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Reid said he has ideas on how to better the bill, too.

“In my view, it’s not strong enough,” Reid said. “But it’s a tremendous move forward.”

Reid said he wants committees to start working on a list of amendments because the issue is critical to national security.

“Unless we do something, it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when,” Reid said of the chances of a cyberattack.

Republicans have recently criticized Reid for not being more open during the amendment process.

The Cybersecurity Act aims to protect American from cyberattacks against the Web, electrical grid, banking systems, military operations, transportation networks and others.

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

“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.”

Lawmakers have been meeting this week to find common ground. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has introduced a competing bill, the Secure It Act.

When originally proposed, S. 3414 received pushback 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.”