Senate sets up cyber vote for Thursday, lawmakers still working on amendments

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday filed a motion to end debate and proceed to the cybersecurity bill.

The move sets up a key vote Thursday, but it looks like Reid won't have the 60 votes necessary to move forward because of a fight with Republicans over amendments to the bill. 

The two sides have been trying to reach a deal on what amendments will be considered, and Reid said he was disappointed that an agreement wasn’t reached Tuesday.

“To say I’m disappointed is a tremendous understatement,” Reid said Tuesday night. “I thought we’d all put national security above partisan politics.”

Reid put blame on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 

“I’m terribly disappointed with the Chamber of Commerce,” Reid said. “The Chamber of Commerce has sucked in most Republicans on this bill.”

The Chamber objected to some of the security requirements for businesses, despite the fact that the bill's key backers, Sens. Joseph Liberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) offered to make them voluntary.

Reid filled the tree with an amendment from Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) that would remove language in the bill that gives  Internet service providers and other private companies a broad, new authority to monitor communications flowing through their information systems for cyber threats and use certain countermeasures to combat them. 

Reid also included another amendment by Lieberman that would remove language from the bill that allows federal regulators to make voluntary cybersecurity standards for critical infrastructure operators mandatory.

“Inflexible positions are being taken,” Lieberman said as things began to look grim for his bill. “People are not wiling to come across political divides to address this problem.”

The Cybersecurity Act would increase cyber protections for the nation's electrical grid, financial networks, transportation system and other critical infrastructure.

Reid also criticized Republicans for offering non-germane amendments to the bill.

Earlier Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) asked for a vote on an amendment to repeal the healthcare law. Reid refused, saying it was unrelated to the cyber bill.  Another GOP amendment was offered by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) to restrict abortions in the District of Columbia. 

“I was surprised to hear Sen. McConnell wanted a vote on repealing ObamaCare on this bill and that’s really inappropriate,” Reid said.

Collins said that enough time had already been spent on the bill.

“The Senate has had 25 hearings, how many more hearings, briefings and reports do we need,” Collins said. “I am amazed that we are letting the clock tick down when we know that it’s not a matter of if there is a cyber attack on this country it is a matter of when.”

Updated at 9:01 p.m.