Wyden: 'No time limits' for cyber bill debate

Sen. Ron WydenRon WydenDems push for US, EU cooperation on China's market status Senate Dems push Obama for more Iran transparency Watchdog faults Energy Department over whistleblower retaliation MORE (D-Ore.) said he would vigorously oppose any effort to limit debate time on a major cybersecurity bill expected to hit the floor soon.

“When we have that debate, people are going to see how flawed the bill is,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

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Wyden has been the leading opponent of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), meant to expand the sharing of cyber threat data between companies and the government.

While a bipartisan group of lawmakers, industry groups and even the White House say the measure is the first step needed to help understand and better fight hackers, privacy advocates say it merely shuttles more personal data on Americans to intelligence agencies.

After many months of stalling and several derailed efforts to move CISA, lawmakers are actually close to getting the bill on the floor sometime after next week’s brief recess.

Wyden previously joined numerous Democrats and a few libertarian Republicans in refusing to advance the bill until they were guaranteed the opportunity to offer privacy-enhancing amendments. They want more onus on companies to proactively remove people's sensitive information from datasets before sharing them with the government.

Just before the Senate departed for its August recess, the two parties struck a deal that lines up the first 21 amendments — including numerous privacy-focused edits — that will be considered when the bill is brought up.

But the agreement did not cap the total amendments or restrict debate time, leaving open questions about whether the upper chamber could expeditiously move the bill.

“In the original agreement, I insisted that there be no time limits,” Wyden said. “And I am not going to just casually give that up. That’s number one.”

Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard BurrRichard BurrThe Trail 2016: Putting the past behind them The Hill's 12:30 Report Burr pledges to retire after one more Senate term MORE (R-N.C.), one of the bill’s co-sponsors, insisted on Tuesday the upper chamber could still quickly take care of the bill.

“We can process 21 amendments in a matter of days as long as we have the cooperation of our members,” Burr said.

Part of that cooperation is ongoing discussions about whether to combine some of the amendments to speed up consideration of the bill.

Wyden is wary of the prospect.  

“I’m going to be very opposed to that at this time,” he said. “This is a badly flawed bill.”

Wyden wants the privacy-focused edits discussed to completion. That debate will expose CISA’s shortcomings, Wyden predicted.

“The benefits in terms of security are very modest,” he said. “The privacy rights that Americans will see compromised, in my view, are very significant.”