Senators want to tie cyber, Iran in deal to limit debate

It is exceedingly unlikely the Senate will get to a major cybersecurity deal before taking off for the August recess.

Senators are now looking to combine a deal to restrict floor time and amendments on the cyber bill with an agreement to structure debate time on the Iran nuclear deal.

{mosads}“If you can figure out both of those things, there can maybe be some give and take on both,” Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told The Hill.

The decision means it is almost impossible for the upper chamber to move on the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) — which is intended to boost the sharing of data on hackers between the public and private sectors — before the week’s end.

While supporters argue enhancing cyber threat information-sharing is a necessity to better understand and repel potential cyberattacks, privacy groups believe CISA will simply funnel more sensitive data on American citizens to government intelligence agencies.

The latest strategy comes after lawmakers were apparently unable to reach a pact to limit the number of amendments that could be offered on the floor. Such an accord would have been necessary to get to a final vote on the cyber bill by Thursday.

But coming out of a GOP caucus meeting Wednesday afternoon, lawmakers still had no deal.

“They’re still negotiating,” said Senate Armed Forces Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.).

After Senate leaders indefinitely delayed an expected 2 p.m. procedural vote to advance CISA, chances of the bill moving at all quickly appeared squashed.

Instead, lawmakers were shifting to a discussion of how to structure floor time in September on both the cybersecurity bill and an expected divisive debate over the Iran nuclear deal.

The Senate must also address a number of budget bills shortly after returning.

“We need a schedule for debate and votes on two major issues, plus we’ve got a whole September full of cliffs,” McCain said.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) told reporters that senators would hopefully reach that floor schedule agreement sometime Wednesday and take a vote sometime late Wednesday or on Thursday.

But nothing is set in stone.

“We’re definitely going to vote on something,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), expressing the general confusion off of the Senate floor. 

Tags John McCain Richard Burr Ron Johnson Susan Collins

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