House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said Thursday that secretive attacks on American computer systems could spark a renewed push for legislation after the election.
Speaking at a cybersecurity event at the Chamber of Commerce headquarters, Rogers said House and Senate lawmakers have been briefed on "what appears to be a new-level threat."
He hinted that the attacks are coming from a foreign government, but not China or other usual suspects.
He declined to discuss more specifics, joking that it could land him in jail.
"I look really bad in orange — you know those jump suits with the numbers on the back," said Rogers, who has criticized the administration for leaks to the press over national security issues.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) has said he thinks Iran may be behind cyber attacks on U.S. bank websites, but it is unclear whether Rogers was referring to the same attacks.
The House Intelligence Committee chairman said he is hopeful that the seriousness of the new attacks will break a stalemate in Congress over cybersecurity legislation.
Rogers is the author of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which passed the House in April. The measure would encourage companies and the government to share information with each other about cyber attacks. But the White House has threatened to veto the bill over concerns that it would give spy agencies access to people's personal information.
The White House endorsed a separate Senate bill, the Cybersecurity Act, which included tougher privacy protections and would have set government security standards for critical infrastructure, such as gas pipelines and banks.
But Republicans blocked the Cybersecurity Act, arguing that the standards would burden businesses and do little to improve security.
The White House is now considering an executive order that would encourage companies to meet cybersecurity standards.
Rogers said the latest briefings "rekindled people's interest in trying to get something done." He argued that CISPA is the only bill that has bipartisan support and could pass in the lame-duck session.
"Just pass the cyber sharing bill and we can talk about critical infrastructure next year," Rogers said.