The Senate Intelligence Committee passed a controversial cybersecurity bill 14-1 during a markup Thursday, a move that Chairman Richard BurrRichard BurrSenators introduce dueling miners bills Trump education pick to face Warren, Sanders Senate Intel panel to probe Trump team's ties to Russia MORE (R-N.C.) called “historic.”
“I have all the confidence in the world going to [Senate Majority Leader] McConnell and asking him for this to be expedited on the Senate floor,” Burr told reporters after the vote.
“This has been a long road,” said Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinJustice requires higher standard than Sessions Senate to vote Friday on Trump's defense picks Senate seeks deal on Trump nominees MORE (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the panel who has been pushing versions of CISA for several years.
Government officials and most industry groups argue the bill is necessary to mitigate the impact of cyberattacks, which have hit giant retailers like Target and Home Depot, major banks like JPMorgan, and Anthem, the nation’s second-largest health insurer.
If CISA had been in place, “I think we might have minimized what happened at Anthem, we might have minimized what happened at Home Depot,” Burr said. “But certainly we would have made sure that elsewhere in the industry, there wouldn’t have been a threat because federal government would have responded.”
But the measure has drawn the ire of the privacy community, including Sen. Ron WydenRon WydenTop GOP senator warns of weekend work on Trump nominees Overnight Finance: Scoop – Trump team eyes dramatic spending cuts | Treasury pick survives stormy hearing Mnuchin weathers stormy confirmation hearing MORE (D-Ore.), the lone vote Thursday opposing CISA.
Opponents are worried the bill will create another outlet for the intelligence community to collect sensitive data on Americans.
In a statement Thursday, Wyden called CISA a "surveillance bill by another name."
Similar White House and Democratic objections held up the bill’s markup for several weeks.
The Intel panel made several notable privacy concessions to address those concerns.
Feinstein said there were roughly 15 Democratic amendments related to privacy offered during the markup, 12 of which are in the final legislation, either in whole or in part.
CISA will not allow electronic, real-time sharing with intelligence agencies. If companies want to digitally exchange cyber threat data, they will have to go through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), a civilian agency.
“Our preference is the electronic transfer through the DHS portal,” Burr stressed.
A White House cyber info-sharing proposal would have placed the DHS at the center of nearly all public-private threat data exchange.
Feinstein believes the changes will assuage the administration's and other lawmakers’ concerns.
“I talked to the president’s chief of staff [Denis McDonoughDenis McDonoughObama staffers challenged to WH scavenger hunt on final day Chief of staff: Obama administration 'historically free of scandal' Sunday shows preview: Trump allies appear after John Lewis criticism MORE] yesterday,” Feinstein said. “I think he believes that a number of improvements have been made in the bill.”
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has been discussing an info-sharing bill this year that would mirror the White House proposal.
Sen. Tom CarperTom CarperPruitt says his EPA will work with the states Dems prepare to face off with Trump's pick to lead EPA Justice, FBI to be investigated over Clinton probes MORE (D-Del.), ranking member on Homeland Security, even introduced a version of the administration's proposal. But Committee Chairman Ron JohnsonRon JohnsonOvernight Healthcare: GOP governors defend Medicaid expansion GOP senator: Let's work with Dems to 'fix' ObamaCare Right renews push for term limits as Trump takes power MORE has chosen to defer to the Intelligence bill, calling it more “robust.”
Carper wrote to the Intelligence panel with concerns about its bill, as did Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahyOvernight Tech: Meet the key players for Trump on tech | Patent chief staying on | Kerry aide goes to Snapchat | Uber's M settlement Senate panel sets vote on Sessions for AG Obama admin injects another 0M into global climate fund MORE (D-Vt.), a staunch opponent of increasing the intelligence community’s access to private data.
Feinstein said she had spoken with both senators about their hesitations.
“I think we’ve met most of those concerns,” Feinstein said. “There’s been a major effort to handle those in this bill.”
Discussing the privacy concessions, Burr said that Feinstein “has stretched me so far, I feel like I’ve had cosmetic surgery.”
In a statement, Carper said he was "encouraged by the bipartisan progress ... made today," but added that he had yet to read the bill's full text.
“The only way we’re going to get this first step done is if it’s bipartisan,” Feinstein said.
The committee plans to bring the bill to the Senate floor for a vote shortly after the upcoming recess, which spans the last week of March through mid-April.
“I’ve learned never to try to forecast what’s going to happen in the United States Senate,” Burr said.