Lieberman warns colleagues that if Senate doesn’t act on cybersecurity, Obama will

“I’m glad Sen. [Harry] Reid (D-Nev.) gives the senate now a second chance to protect the American people from a cyberattack and cyber theft,” Lieberman said on the Senate floor less than an hour before the vote. “At least vote to proceed to the Cybersecurity Act. … Don’t be recorded as ‘No,’ say yes to at least allowing a discussion of cybersecurity legislation here.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he’d allow a “finite list of amendments” from Republicans this time.

The Cybersecurity Act would encourage companies that operate critical infrastructure — such as water plants, electric companies and transportation networks — to take steps to boost the security of their computer systems and networks. It also aims to make it easier for industry to share information about cyber threats spotted on their networks with the government.

Lieberman said the bill is about creating standards for public-private cooperation to defend against cyberattacks and that the several recent attacks since the Senate first voted on the measure in August was reason enough to pass the bill.

Some Republicans opposed the bill last time because the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said it included burdensome regulations on businesses. Lieberman pointed out that the House would likely pass its own version that would be much more business friendly, leading to a conference committee to iron out the differences.

Lieberman said if Congress doesn’t act, President Obama will.

“If we fail to pass legislation [Obama] will issue an executive order that will do as much as it has authority to do to prevent a cybersecurity attack,” Lieberman said. “I think he has a responsibility to act because if we don’t we’re leaving the American people extremely vulnerable to a cybersecurity attack.”

Tags Harry Reid

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