Intel panel pushing for cyber vote by April

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s upcoming cybersecurity bill could reach the floor in March, although most are expecting it won’t come up until late April, according to multiple people with knowledge of the discussions.

The final text of the bill — which would enhance cybersecurity information-sharing between the private sector and intelligence agencies — was initially expected last week, but has yet to surface.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Hill reported last week that lawmakers are hearing the measure is stalling over White House concerns about the draft’s privacy provisions.

“The White House is not a supporter, which is troubling,” Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonHillicon Valley: Barr asks Apple to unlock Pensacola shooter's phone | Tech industry rallies behind Google in Supreme Court fight | Congress struggles to set rules for cyber warfare with Iran | Blog site Boing Boing hacked Congress struggles on rules for cyber warfare with Iran Senators set for briefing on cyber threats from Iran MORE (R-Wis.), who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, told The Hill.

The Wall Street Journal also reported Thursday that several Democratic lawmakers are expressing hesitation.

Still, several sources said Intelligence is committed to introducing and marking up the bill as early as Tuesday, and definitely within the next two weeks.

The committee’s top-two lawmakers — Sens. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrHillicon Valley: Apple, Barr clash over Pensacola shooter's phone | Senate bill would boost Huawei alternatives | DHS orders agencies to fix Microsoft vulnerability | Chrome to phase out tracking cookies Senators offer bill to create alternatives to Huawei in 5G tech Voting machine vendors to testify on election security MORE (R-N.C.) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenate opens Trump impeachment trial Democrats ask if US citizens were detained at border checkpoints due to Iranian national origin Pelosi set to send impeachment articles to the Senate next week MORE (D-Calif.) — have worked together on the legislation, an updated version of last year’s Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA).

The bill will be critical in determining how lawmakers move forward with their cybersecurity legislative agenda.

Legislation to facilitate the exchange of cyber threat data — malware, viruses, IP addresses — between the public and private sectors has been at the top of the cyber wish list for many industry groups, government officials and lawmakers.

Supports argue such sharing is needed to better understand and thwart the rising tide of cyberattacks that are repeatedly infiltrating private companies and federal agencies alike.

A wide swath of major corporations, including Microsoft, Lockheed Martin, Morgan Stanley and Ford, all wrote congressional leaders last week urging action on the bill.

But privacy advocates have already come out against a draft of the new CISA, arguing it creates another venue for the National Security Administration (NSA) to collect Americans’ sensitive data.

The White House shares some of these concerns.

President Obama has pushed his own proposal, which would put the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at the center of all government public-private cyber-sharing efforts.

The administration believes greater involvement of a civilian agency would assuage many privacy concerns and restrict NSA access to data.

Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperDemocrats ask if US citizens were detained at border checkpoints due to Iranian national origin Democrats, greens blast Trump rollback of major environmental law EPA employees push 'bill of rights' to protect scientific integrity MORE (D-Del.), the top Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, has introduced a version of this proposal.

But Johnson, the Homeland Security chairman, has said he wants to wait for the Intelligence Committee bill before moving on anything himself.

He’s also expressed support for the Intelligence panel’s efforts.

“I think the Intel bill is well considered,” he told The Hill last week.

Intelligence Committee staffers are pushing to get the bill quickly to the floor, before the end of the month if they can. But many with knowledge of the discussions don’t expect the measure to make it before the full Senate before a three-week recess starting the last week of March.