Senators: Cyber bill deal leaves work to be done


A bipartisan deal to try and speed passage of a major cybersecurity bill resolves a sliver of the privacy issues that have been stalling the bill, but leaves much work to be done, senators said Monday night.

The Hill on Monday obtained a managers’ amendment from Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who are backing the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA).

The bill is intended to boost the amount of data shared on hackers between companies and the government. But privacy advocates have cautioned that this exchange will enable intelligence agencies to collect more personal data on American citizens.

{mosads}“The manager’s package settles some problems that we’ve known were there,” Feinstein told reporters.

But not all, she acknowledged. When asked if her pact with Burr would help spur a broader deal to move the bill, Feinstein said, “Oh, I can’t answer that.”

Other senators threw up their hands as well.

“I don’t know,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the third-ranking Democrat, adding there were Democrats who had a number of important amendments not included in the managers’ package.

Senate leaders are trying to move CISA before the imminent August recess, which starts at the end of this week. Supporters, including industry groups and a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, insist Congress must move expediently on the bill to help both industry and government fight potential cyberattacks.

But a glut of Democrats and Republicans are angling to offer amendments, meaning party leaders must reach a major agreement to limit the add-ons that can be offered during the remaining floor time.

Monday’s agreement falls far short of that full-fledged deal.

It does, however, address some key privacy concerns, such as how the government can share and use the data it would collect under CISA.

“It takes out any subsidiary use of the data,” Feinstein said. “It means you can’t use it for violent crime or anything else. You can only use it strictly for a cybersecurity purpose.”

It also removes language that would exempt the shared data from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requirements.

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), who had been pushing for such an edit with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), was pleased with the inclusion.

“I plan to support the bill and hopefully [the managers’ amendment] gets us to a place where we can move forward expeditiously,” he told The Hill Monday.

But outside privacy groups and their main Senate partner on the bill, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), were forceful in calling the deal’s language inadequate.

It “does not fix the provision of this bill that allow private companies to hand large volumes of their customers’ personal information over to the government with only a cursory review,” Wyden said on the floor in a speech Monday evening.

Schumer insisted that Democrats “want to get to the bill.” But senators like Wyden need to be able to offer amendments that weren’t included in the Burr-Feinstein deal.

“It’s just only fair to get a few amendments,” Schumer said. “Republican leadership has always said they don’t want to fill trees and they want to allow amendments. We have some members who feel strongly about certain amendments and they should be allowed to offer them.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) late Monday filed cloture on the motion to proceeed on CISA, setting up a potential first vote on Wednesday.

Tags Chuck Schumer Dianne Feinstein Martin Heinrich Mitch McConnell Patrick Leahy Richard Burr Ron Wyden

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