Chambliss: Senate must get cyber bill done this year

The Senate needs to get a cybersecurity bill done this year, and the Senate Intelligence Committee is “close” to a bipartisan bill, according to Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), the committee’s top Republican.

“We’re down now to just a couple of provisions that we’re still talking about that we’ve got to resolve before we bring it before the committee,” Chambliss said Tuesday, speaking at a Bloomberg event on cybersecurity. 

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Chambliss said he has been working with Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) for months and has solved some of the differences between their approaches, including over real-time sharing of information about cyber threats across relevant entities in the public and private sectors.

They’re still working to solve issues of liability protections, he continued, adding that he’s “confident we’ll figure something out.”

Chambliss said he is hopeful the bill will come to the Senate floor once the committee considers it.

“It’s a bipartisan bill,” he said. “That rings a bell in [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid’s mind as to what ought to come to the floor.”

The Senate should pass a cyber bill this year so that the House has time to consider it before next year’s “new influx of members,” Chambliss continued, pointing to the working relationship he and Feinstein have with House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.). 

“The four of us, unlike previous House and Senate Intelligence Committees … we have worked very well together,” he said.

“We’ve been talking about [the cyber bill] for months with Congressman Rogers and Congressman Ruppersberger.”

Chambliss said one of the biggest challenges is educating people about cybersecurity issues and threats.

The next conflict is “probably not going to be with boots on the ground, its probably going to be in the area of cyber,” he said.

Chambliss pointed to recent high-profile data breaches at consumer-facing companies — including a retail giant Target, which made vulnerable the personal and financial data of tens of millions of people — as a wake up call for some.

“It did raise the profile of the issue in the minds of the public to the extent that people are all of a sudden starting to say, ‘Hey, this could happen to me,’” he said.