Sen. Coats uses 9/11 to showcase cybersecurity as next big threat

“In the aftermath of tragedy, Congress put aside politics and worked to strengthen the country and security,” Coats said Tuesday morning in a floor speech. “Yet today, we face a different security threat ... a cyberattack, an attack using the Internet to address a system and taking it down.”

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Coats said the threat of a cyberattack is “real and far-reaching,” and encouraged his colleagues to try once again to pass the legislation before the next recess. In July, the Senate came close to reaching an agreement on the Cybersecurity Act introduced by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce came out against the bill and its progress stalled.

But Coats supported the bipartisan legislation and said Congress must try again within its limited schedule because of the upcoming election.

“Congress must act to add cyber to its to-do list,” Coast said. “What needs to be at the top of this list is cybersecurity ... let us learn from the lessons of Sept. 11 and not wait for a major attack before we act.”

Coats criticized the Obama administration for saying it would implement some of the security measures through executive order after the Senate bill failed.

“I urge my colleagues to continue to work in a bipartisan manor ... to bring forward a cybersecurity bill,” Coats said. “Rather than acting alone, I call on the president to work with the members of this chamber ... and put national security before political security.”