Reid sets crucial cybersecurity vote

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has scheduled a crucial procedural vote that could determine the fate of cybersecurity legislation in the upper chamber. 

The test vote is set up for Friday on Sen. Joe Lieberman's (I-Conn.) cybersecurity bill, but an aide for Reid said Republicans will likely yield back time for the vote to take place on Thursday. 

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In the meantime, the co-sponsors of Lieberman's bill and a group of Senate Republicans are working to come up with a consensus that will bridge their differences on provisions that would incentivize critical infrastructure operators to meet security standards.

A bipartisan group of senators met Wednesday to discuss a path forward on the bill and are set to meet again on Thursday morning. Lieberman said the members' staffs — including sponsors of Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) competing SECURE IT Act — are working overnight on the effort.

"There was a really big breakthrough today," Lieberman said. "It's a big development, it's a hopeful development. We've still got a lot of work to do."

Lieberman said Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) contacted him on Tuesday and said "he thought the sponsors of SECURE IT were interested in negotiating." He said members will be discussing whether they can agree on amendments to be brought up when the bill is considered.

The bill currently proposes to establish a program where critical infrastructure operators would elect to meet a set of security standards approved by a government-led council chaired by the Homeland Security Department in exchange for incentives. Lieberman said the backers of SECURE IT are proposing for the council to be led by the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology instead.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) said the group is trying to find where the two cybersecurity measures overlap and possibly come up with amendments that could be moved forward.

"We're trying to see where we can come up with any kind of a consensus bill that we get 60 votes, now that's the purpose. The process of doing that was not discussed," she said. "I don't think honestly we would be able to have a complete substitute that we would all sign onto, but we might be able to have amendments that might get 60 votes. It's just unclear right now."

This story was updated at 6:08 p.m.