GOP senators push cybersecurity bill that avoids ‘heavy hand of government’

Eight Republican senators introduced their own cybersecurity bill Thursday as an alternative to the measure backed by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids Study: ObamaCare bills backed by Collins would lower premiums Right scrambles GOP budget strategy MORE (R-Maine.).

Unlike the Lieberman-Collins measure, the Republicans Secure IT Act would not give the Homeland Security Department the power to require critical computer systems to meet certain security standards.

ADVERTISEMENT
The Republican bill is backed by Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat Meghan McCain knocks Bannon: 'Who the hell are you' to criticize Romney? Dems demand Tillerson end State hiring freeze, consult with Congress MORE (Ariz.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe Clinton GOP and Dems bitterly divided by immigration Thanks to the farm lobby, the US is stuck with a broken ethanol policy MORE (Iowa), Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissLobbying World Former GOP senator: Let Dems engage on healthcare bill OPINION: Left-wing politics will be the demise of the Democratic Party MORE (Ga.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Week ahead: Trump expected to shrink two national monuments GOP on verge of opening Arctic refuge to drilling MORE (Alaska), Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsNational counterterrorism chief to retire at the end of year Former intel chief Hayden: Think twice on a Trump job offer Counterintelligence needs reboot for 21st century MORE (Ind.), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonOvernight Cybersecurity: Panel pushes agencies on dropping Kaspersky software | NC county won't pay ransom to hackers | Lawmakers sound alarm over ISIS 'cyber caliphate' GOP chairman warns of ISIS's ‘cyber caliphate’ Overnight Finance: House approves motion to go to tax conference — with drama | GOP leaders to consider Dec. 30 spending bill | Justices skeptical of ban on sports betting | Mulvaney won't fire official who sued him MORE (Wis.) and Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrSessions argued presidents can obstruct justice in Clinton impeachment trial Trump Jr. to meet with Senate panel amid Russia probe Trump’s Russian winter grows colder with Flynn plea deal MORE (N.C.).

Now is not the time for Congress to be adding more government, more regulation, and more debt — especially when it is far from clear that any of it will enhance our security, Chambliss said in a news release. Our bill offers the right solution to improving our nation’s cybersecurity by encouraging collaboration, investment, and innovation.”

The GOP legislation would encourage private companies to share information about cyberthreats with the government and would empower the secretary of Commerce to set cybersecurity standards for government agencies. It would also update the criminal code for cybercrimes and toughen penalties.

“Our bill represents a new way forward in protecting the American people and the country’s cyber infrastructure from attack,” Grassley said. “Instead of the heavy hand of the government, our approach promotes information sharing and keeps the taxpayers’ wallets closed.”

Supporters of the Lieberman-Collins bill argued that the regulatory power is necessary to ensure that critical systems, such as electrical grids, are secure from cyberattacks. 

Vincent Morris, a spokesman for Sen. Jay RockefellerJay RockefellerOvernight Tech: Trump nominates Dem to FCC | Facebook pulls suspected baseball gunman's pages | Uber board member resigns after sexist comment Trump nominates former FCC Dem for another term Obama to preserve torture report in presidential papers MORE (D-W.Va.), who also backs the bill, said he is “glad to see other senators recognize the severity of this threat,” but “we’re still convinced that you can’t get there without some new rules.”

Lieberman, Collins, Rockefeller and Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe Clinton Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Blumenthal: ‘Credible case' of obstruction of justice can be made against Trump MORE (D-Calif.) issued a joint statement in response to the introduction of the GOP bill.

“We are encouraged by our colleagues’ recognition that we must act to address the increasingly sophisticated and dangerous attacks on our national infrastructure,” they said. “We can no longer delay action on deciding how to deal with this critical issue, and we are eager to work with them to bring comprehensive cyber security legislation to the Senate floor as soon as possible.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidBill O'Reilly: Politics helped kill Kate Steinle, Zarate just pulled the trigger Tax reform is nightmare Déjà vu for Puerto Rico Ex-Obama and Reid staffers: McConnell would pretend to be busy to avoid meeting with Obama MORE (D-Nev.) plans to bring the Lieberman-Collins bill straight to the Senate floor, skipping any committee votes.  

The Republican critics argued that the various committees with jurisdiction, including the Commerce, Judiciary, Energy, Intelligence and Homeland Security committees, should all have an opportunity to amend the legislation.

At a Homeland Security Committee hearing last month, McCain accused Lieberman of trying to ram his bill through Congress.

Lieberman argued that Congress has been working on cybersecurity legislation for years and that his bill incorporates elements of several pieces of legislation that have already been through the committee process.

“To treat the last Congress as a legislative mulligan by bypassing the committee process and bringing the legislation directly to the floor is not the appropriate way to begin consideration of an issue as complicated as cybersecurity,” McCain responded.