Rockefeller pledges to work with tech leaders to avert "cyber 9/11, cyber Katrina"

Both Rockefeller and Snowe have long articulated the need for cybersecurity reform, stressing their own legislation as the most viable option. The two lawmakers have already gone through four drafts of their bill, making changes in response industry criticisms that it was too overreaching and broad.


The most prominent, early complaint was that the bill granted the president exceptional, unprecedented power to shut down entire networks in the event of a cyber-emergency. While both lawmakers insisted their bill did no such thing, they nonetheless clarified their language to quiet tech leaders', who have since grown more supportive of the legislation.

The Senate Commerce Committee ultimately cleared the bill last month with ease, leaving it up to the full Senate to decide its fate. But Rockefeller said Thursday he was not entirely sure when the bill would come to the floor, though he did note he had met repeatedly with Senate Democratic leaders to discuss scheduling.

When that bill does reach the full chamber, the West Virginia Democrat predicted his legislation would not encounter much political push back, even though partisan rancor in the Senate has been especially prevalent as of late.

"As you know in the Senate, we like to fight," Rockefeller said, adding that floor time for a bill has become so valuable that politicos ought to trade it like "futures." Still, he added, "I don't think this is going to be a partisan issue."

He also expressed hope that the private tech industry, too, would warm up to the legislation, which he promised to adapt and revise as more businesses and experts raised new ideas and concerns.

"I am proud of how far we've come," Rockefeller said. "But we need to get it done."