Lieberman warns July is deadline for cybersecurity bill

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Lieberman's bill, which is co-sponsored by Sen. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsLeaked ObamaCare bill would defund Planned Parenthood GOP lawmaker at town hall calls on Trump to release his tax returns GOP senator won't vote to defund Planned Parenthood 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 McCainDrug importation won't save dollars or lives Dem rep Charlie Crist files for divorce Why the GOP cannot sweep its Milo scandal under the rug 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 WhitehouseA guide to the committees: Senate Pruitt confirmation sets stage for Trump EPA assault Senate Dems ask DHS inspector general for probe of Trump’s business arrangement 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 ReidSanders and Schumer are right: Ellison for DNC chair The Hill's 12:30 Report Hopes rise for law to expand access to experimental drugs 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.