Lieberman warns July is deadline for cybersecurity bill

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Lieberman's bill, which is co-sponsored by Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGun proposal picks up GOP support Giffords, Scalise highlight party differences on guns Agricultural trade demands investment in MAP and FMD MORE (R-Maine), would encourage private companies to share information about cyber threats with one another and with the government. The bill would also empower the Homeland Security Department to set minimum cybersecurity standards for critical infrastructure systems, such as electrical grids and gas pipelines.

Supporters of the legislation, including the White House, say the mandatory standards are necessary to protect vital systems from attack.

In his speech on Wednesday, Lieberman entered into the record a letter from a bipartisan group of former national security officials calling for critical infrastructure protections. The officials warned that without the protections, the nation is at risk of suffering a "cyber 9/11."

But many Republicans, including Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainRubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad with pro-communist posts The VA's woes cannot be pinned on any singular administration Overnight Defense: Mattis offers support for Iran deal | McCain blocks nominees over Afghanistan strategy | Trump, Tillerson spilt raises new questions about N. Korea policy MORE (Ariz.), argue the mandates would unnecessarily burden businesses. They say the government should only enable the private sector to protects its systems, and not dictate which security measures to take.

Sens. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDem senator: 'How many lives must be lost before we act?' Sen. Manchin won’t vote for Trump’s mine safety nominee Overnight Regulation: SEC chief grilled over hack | Dems urge Labor chief to keep Obama overtime rule | Russia threatens Facebook over data storage law MORE (D-R.I.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) are working on a compromise proposal that would pressure, but not force, critical infrastructure companies to better protect their systems.

In April, the House passed its own cybersecurity bill, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which focuses only on voluntary information-sharing and would not mandate any security standards.

In his speech, Lieberman congratulated the House for taking "some initial good steps," but argued that the critical infrastructure protections must be included in the legislation that ultimately becomes law.

He thanked Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies Republicans are headed for a disappointing end to their year in power Obama's HHS secretary could testify in Menendez trial MORE (D-Nev.), who gave his own speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday stressing his support for Lieberman's bill. Lieberman said that Reid has assured him the bill will come up for a vote in July, and he predicted that the bill will have the votes to clear the chamber.

Lieberman has said the cybersecurity bill is his top legislative priority before he retires at the end of the year.