White House: GOP sided with special interests over national security on cyber vote

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“We know how important this legislations is, we know it’s more important than getting a pat on the back from the Chamber of Commerce,” Reid said Thursday before the vote. “That’s why Republicans are running like a pack of scared cats.”

The final vote on Sen. Joe Lieberman's (I-Conn.) Cybersecurity Act was 52-46, short of the 60 votes needed to cut off debate and move the legislation forward.

Republican senators who voted for the bill were Sens. Dick Lugar (Ind.), Dan Coats (Ind.), Scott Brown (Mass.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), who was also a main co-sponsor. Democrats voting against the bill were Sens. Ron Wyden (Ore.), Max Baucus (Mont.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Jon Tester (Mont.) and Reid. 

Reid voted against the measure as a procedural move to leave open the option of bringing the bill back to the floor later.

The legislation's supporters argued it would help businesses to protect their computer systems better from hackers and would upgrade the security protections of critical infrastructure, such as electrical grids and gas pipelines.

But critics, including Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), said the measure would impose harmful regulations on businesses.

They acknowledged that the Chamber was an influential voice, but they argued that the business community should have input on any new regulations the government plans to impose on them.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also criticized Democrats on Thursday for not allowing a more open process for amendments on the legislation.

The House passed its own cybersecurity bill, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection (CISPA), earlier this year. The measure focuses on improving information-sharing about cyber threats, and, unlike the Senate bill, includes no provisions to incentivize critical infrastructure companies to enhance their cyber defenses. 

The White House has threatened to veto CISPA over concerns that it would fail to protect critical infrastructure and would lead companies to turn over their customers' personal information to spy agencies.

"Senate Republican opposition to this vital national security bill, coupled with the deeply-flawed House information sharing bill that threatens personal privacy while doing nothing to protect the nation’s critical infrastructure, is a profound disappointment," Carney said.

Carney said the White House fought hard for a cybersecurity bill, noting that the administration proposed its own legislative package, sent administration officials to testify at 17 congressional hearings and presented more than 100 briefings on the issue.