GOP senators call for delay on cybersecurity bill

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The legislation would give the Homeland Security Department regulatory authority over companies with computer systems crucial to the nation's economic and physical security. The bill would require that the companies take adequate precautions to safeguard their systems and would increase information sharing about cyber threats between the private sector and the government. 

"Given the serious national security and economic consequences of any legislation, it is imperative that the other committees of jurisdiction be given the opportunity to shape the legislative outcome in a bipartisan manner," the senators wrote.

The lawmakers, who serve as the ranking Republicans on the Commerce, Intelligence, Judiciary, Energy, Armed Services, Budget and Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committees, said all of their panels should have the opportunity to hold hearings and markup the legislation. 

In a statement, Reid said the bill is the "product of more than three years of bipartisan cooperation across several committees" and that given the urgency of the threat, he will "move quickly to bring this legislation to the Senate floor.” 

"We are not rushing this," Lieberman said in a statement. "This bipartisan legislation has been three years in the making and its outlines have not only been shared with stakeholders and the public, but their input has helped shape the final version of the bill introduced today."

He noted that seven committees have held dozens of hearings on cybersecurity in recent years. 

Senators from different committees also formed working groups last year to shape a cybersecurity proposal.

In their letter, the GOP senators said the working groups "met infrequently—if at all—and did not function constructively." 

"The legislation we introduced today has been thoroughly vetted," Lieberman said.  "And Leader Reid has promised that when it comes to the floor it will receive a thorough debate and will be open to amendment to further improve the bill."

Lieberman urged the senators not to delay his bill.

“We have come so far with this bill. The threat it addresses is so clear and present. There is no reason for further delay. Time is not on our side. The threat is increasing exponentially and we are falling behind.”

A spokesman for Sen. Rockefeller accused the Republicans of trying to "drag their heels" on the issue.

"To try and go back to the drawing board at this point in the process is an insult to members who have met often and worked hard to reach consensus during the last two years," he said. "If they aren’t interested in getting a bill done now, it’s unclear whether they ever will.”

--Updated at 6:37 p.m.

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