Republican predicts Obama will back down from veto threat

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, predicted on Monday that President Obama would back down from his threat to veto a controversial cybersecurity bill.

Rogers, the author of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), said he believes Obama will sign the cybersecurity bill, or something very similar to it, if it passes Congress.

"I think if we can get a bill on information-sharing to the president's desk, he'll sign it. I do believe that," Rogers told The Hill following a panel discussion hosted by The Week magazine.

The GOP-controlled House approved CISPA in April despite the president's threat to veto it.

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CISPA would remove legal barriers that prevent companies from sharing information about cyber threats with one another and with the government. The bill would also allow the government to share more information with the private sector.

But the White House expressed concern that CISPA would undermine privacy protections by encouraging companies to hand over their customers' personal information to spy agencies. The administration also argued that CISPA would fail to protect critical infrastructure systems.

Instead, the president has endorsed a bill from Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) that includes tougher privacy protections and would require critical infrastructure systems, such as electrical grids and gas pipelines, to meet mandatory security standards.

Supporters of the legislation say the standards are necessary to ensure that vital systems are safe, but opponents, led by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), argue the standards would impose unnecessary burdens on businesses.

On Monday, Rogers said supporters of Lieberman-Collins will have difficulty getting their bill through the Senate, and that it is unlikely the House will approve any legislation that includes mandatory standards.

He said that once the "dust settles" and the White House acknowledges that CISPA is the only cybersecurity bill capable of clearing both chambers of Congress, the president will sign it.

Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (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.

Rogers said there could still be problems with voluntary standards, but he said he would reserve judgement until he sees a detailed draft of the compromise bill.

"I hope they get something done, so at the very least, we can have a conference on a bill," Rogers said. "I think it can happen. I'm an optimist or I wouldn't be in this business."