Rockefeller to offer cybersecurity amendment to Defense bill

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) plans to offer his cybersecurity bill as an amendment to the Defense authorization bill Thursday.

The amendment has the support of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.), a Rockefeller aide said. 

The Commerce Committee unanimously approved the bill, the Cybersecurity Act of 2013, in July.

ADVERTISEMENT
The measure is far more modest than legislation that Rockefeller and other Senate Democrats backed last year. That bill would have pressured critical infrastructure companies, such as banks and power plants, to meet minimum cybersecurity regulations.

After opposition from Republicans killed last year's bill, President Obama issued an executive order instructing the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to craft voluntary cybersecurity best-practices for critical infrastructure companies.

Rockefeller's amendment would codify the executive order into law. It would also boost cybersecurity education, research and development for cyber threats. 

“The Commerce Committee took action months ago and unanimously passed this bipartisan bill that will improve the nation’s cybersecurity. But it’s been sitting on the sidelines for too long and there’s too much at stake to not look for every opportunity to pass it in the Senate,” Rockefeller said in a statement. 

“So I’m introducing that legislation as an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill and imploring my colleagues to join me in supporting this effort. It creates an environment that will cultivate the public-private partnerships essential to strengthening our nation’s cybersecurity,” he added.