Dems fume at Chamber as cybersecurity talks flounder

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) took a similar line. When asked what the biggest hurdle the bill faces, Rockefeller bluntly said: "The Chamber of Commerce, as always."

Lieberman and Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) met with representatives of the Chamber last week to discuss their concerns with the information-sharing section of the bill, which is aimed at improving the flow of data about cyber threats between the government and industry in real time. 

The Chamber has said the provisions in that section would impede the ability of businesses to share cyber threat information directly with the Department of Defense and the National Security Agency, and has called for wider liability protections.  

Members met with legal representatives from the Chamber again on Monday, according to co-sponsor Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.). At that meeting, Carper said the business lobby referred to aspects of the bill that co-sponsors had already amended in a revised version.

"It was pretty clear to the senators in the room that the Chamber of Commerce's lawyers hadn't read the most recent version of the bill," Carper said. "They need to read the legislation that was actually introduced."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) took a jab at the Chamber on the Senate floor Monday and later told reporters that its opposition to the Cybersecurity Act was "unrelenting."

"If we don't do this bill, it's not a question if there will be a cyber attack that will be really devastating to our country, it's only a question of when — and it can be stopped," Reid said on the Senate floor. "I would hope the Chamber of Commerce would get some sense."

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), one of the GOP members that Senate Democrats are hoping to sway, acknowledged the influence of the Chamber in the debate.

"It's a factor," Blunt said. "If you're going to involve the critical infrastructure — from a private sector prospective — in helping set and adopt voluntary standards, you have to do everything you can to minimize the opposition to that concept and create the potential for more of a buy-in of why they need to do this."

The warring sides hadn't reached a deal on amendments to move forward with the bill as of Tuesday afternoon. While Lieberman said there's still time for members to strike out a deal, hopes for an agreement seemed to be fading.

"It's moving. Is it moving fast enough? Time will tell," Rockefeller said.