Despite rumors, Senate cyber bill still stuck

Senate Republican leaders late Wednesday shot down rumblings that a stalled cyber bill may be back on the table.

One day after it seemed the bill — intended to boost the public-private exchange of data on hackers — wouldn’t move until after the August recess, rumors began swirling that the measure could get a vote as soon as Monday.


“On cyber security, we could pass a bill in the Senate next week if Ds don’t filibuster again,” Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynSenate holds longest vote in history as Democrats scramble to save relief bill Biden gets involved to help break Senate logjam Overnight Defense: Capitol Police may ask National Guard to stay | Biden's Pentagon policy nominee faces criticism | Naval Academy midshipmen moved to hotels MORE (R-Texas) tweeted Wednesday afternoon, referring to the Democrats' blockage of a recent attempt to offer the cyber bill as an amendment to a defense authorization measure.

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSenate approves sweeping coronavirus measure in partisan vote Senate inches toward COVID-19 vote after marathon session Senate Democrats vote to provide 0 unemployment benefits into September MORE (D-Ore.), who has been leading the chorus of concern opposing the cyber bill over privacy issues, quickly scheduled a press call for Thursday in anticipation of action on the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA). 

But Cornyn’s office told The Hill that it stood by the senator’s comments on Tuesday.

“I’m sad to say I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Cornyn said off the Senate floor. “The timing of this is unfortunate.

“I think we’re just running out time,” Cornyn added.

Several people with knowledge of the deliberations also said they were hearing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package GOP votes in unison against COVID-19 relief bill Senate approves sweeping coronavirus measure in partisan vote MORE (R-Ky.) was planning to file cloture Thursday on CISA and move to a vote on Monday.

McConnell’s office maintained that while they want to act on CISA, the reports of an impending vote are “not accurate” and the leader has no plans to file cloture Thursday.

Senate leaders had been vowing to get to the bill before their break, but a drawn-out brawl over a highway funding bill has chewed up floor time this week.

A Planned Parenthood fight has also broken out over the last few weeks, after a series of undercover videos were released showing officials from the reproductive health service provider discussing the costs and methods of preserving fetal tissue for donation.

After concluding the highway bill, McConnell plans to move to a bill that would strip Planned Parenthood of its federal funding. That offering is expected to get a vote Monday.

CISA has also been tangled up in a fight over digital privacy.

While the measure does enjoy strong industry, congressional and potentially even White House support, a civil-liberties-minded wing of the Senate believes the bill would strengthen the government’s surveillance capabilities.

They argue the measure would shuttle sensitive data on Americans to the National Security Agency (NSA). CISA backers counter that the bill includes provisions to strip personally identifiable information before data is shared with the NSA.  

Despite the privacy concerns, many believe if CISA came to the floor, it could pass with amendments.

“[CISA] needs a lot of work,” Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenate inches toward COVID-19 vote after marathon session COVID-19 relief debate stalls in Senate amid Democratic drama First Black secretary of Senate sworn in MORE (D-Vt.), who currently opposes the bill, told The Hill on Tuesday. “And when it comes up, there’s going to have to be a lot of amendments, otherwise it won’t pass.”