Dem Rep. Markey presses Obama to address cybersecurity via executive action

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Markey accused Republicans of putting business interests ahead of the country’s defense in blocking the Cybersecurity Act in the Senate last week.

“Congressional Republicans once again have shown their legislative agenda to be one big I.O.U. – Insurers, Oil companies, and Utilities. … The moneyed minions behind Citizens United have driven Republicans to prioritize the interests of the wealthiest corporations over America’s national security,” he said.

Markey’s letter comes after White House chief counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said Tuesday that the president was considering exercising executive authority to implement some cybersecurity measures in a Senate bill that failed passage.

Senate Republicans had blocked the Cybersecurity Act, sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan CollinsSusan CollinsSenate takes lead on Trump’s infrastructure proposal Navy leaders defend Trump's lackluster ship budget Overnight Healthcare: CBO fallout | GOP senators distance themselves from House bill | Trump budget chief blasts score | Schumer says House bill belongs 'in the trash' MORE (R-Maine), which would have encouraged private companies and the government to share information about cyber threats, and require minimum cybersecurity standards for critical infrastructure. The bill had the backing of the White House and Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidGOP frustrated by slow pace of Trump staffing This week: Congress awaits Comey testimony Will Republicans grow a spine and restore democracy? MORE (D-Nev.).

The legislation’s opponents, led by Sen. John McCainJohn McCainOvernight Defense: Trump scolds NATO allies over spending | Flurry of leaks worries allies | Senators rip B Army 'debacle' | Lawmakers demand hearing on Saudi arms deal The case for protecting America's intelligence agency whistleblowers Overnight Cybersecurity: Senate Intel chiefs get subpoena power in Russia probe | Trump orders probe of leaks | Lawmaker unveils 'hacking back' bill MORE (R-Ariz.), argued that the bill would burden businesses.

Civil-liberties groups and government transparency advocates also criticized the proposal, saying that it handed too much power to intelligence agencies and the Pentagon.

The White House has demonstrated its willingness to use executive action in the past. When Congress did not pass the DREAM Act, a law that would have granted some children of illegal aliens legal status, the administration in June announced that it would no longer deport illegal immigrants young enough to have qualified to stay in the country under the bill.