Senate whip: Dems ‘just flat irresponsible’ on cyber vote

Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynFord's lawyer: Hearing doesn't appear to be designed for 'fair', 'respectful' treatment GOP opens door to holding Kavanaugh committee vote this week GOP senator accuses Dems of ‘character assassination’ on Kavanaugh MORE (R-Texas) lambasted Democrats from the floor minutes after they blocked a GOP attempt to link a cybersecurity amendment to a defense bill.

“The refusal to move forward with this legislation, particularly the cybersecurity part of this discussion, is just unconscionable,” he said.

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The upper chamber on Thursday fell four votes shy of the 60 needed to move forward with attaching the anti-hacking measure to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The provision contained legislation, known as the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), meant to expand the exchange of cyber threat data between the government and the private sector.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFord's lawyer: Hearing doesn't appear to be designed for 'fair', 'respectful' treatment GOP opens door to holding Kavanaugh committee vote this week Press: Judge Kavanaugh must withdraw MORE (R-Ky.) was trying to rush CISA through the Senate in response to the massive digital theft of workers’ data from the Office of Personnel Management, which exposed information about at least 4 million people — and likely more.

“Our colleagues across the aisle have now blocked an amendment that would provide for greater sharing of information to address the rampant and growing cyber threat that this country faces,” Cornyn said. “Sharing cyber threat information will help us as a country deter future cyber attacks, and it helps both the public and the private sector act in a more nimble way when attacks are detected.”

Democrats opposed McConnell’s maneuver because they want the opportunity to offer privacy-enhancing amendments to CISA, which they would not be able to do if the language was attached to the NDAA.

Civil-liberties-minded senators have argued the bill as written would simply give more personal data to intelligence agencies.

“CISA could open a floodgate of information sharing that would jeopardize Americans’ privacy and put their personal information at risk,” Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyThis week: Kavanaugh nomination thrown into further chaos Overnight Defense: Mattis dismisses talk he may be leaving | Polish president floats 'Fort Trump' | Dem bill would ban low-yield nukes Dems introduce bill to ban low-yield nukes MORE (D-Mass.) said in a statement after the vote.

Cornyn accused Democrats of being obstructionists.

“To come out here and to block debate and a vote on a cybersecurity bill at a time when the news is chock-full of the nature of this threat and its intrusive invasion into the privacy of the American people and its danger to our national security is just flat irresponsible,” he said. “These are not threats we can afford to ignore.”