Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHow Cruz Supreme Court case could lead to unlimited anonymous election spending Trump and Biden should stop denigrating US elections The Armageddon elections to come MORE on Thursday vowed to finish a major cybersecurity bill in September.
“This is going to be an extraordinarily productive Congress,” the Kentucky Republican said in a press conference previewing the Senate’s packed September calendar. “We’re going to move things like cybersecurity.”
McConnell made his prediction the morning after senators punted on the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), which facilitates the exchange of cyber threat information between companies and the government.
McConnell had tried to punch the bill through in the waning days before the August recess, but couldn’t reach a deal with Democrats to limit floor debate and amendments. Before leaving Washington, senators did agree to a slate of at least 21 amendments that will be offered whenever the bill is eventually taken up.
“I would have loved to have finished cybersecurity,” McConnell told reporters. “But we have an agreement now that will allow us to finish it in September.”
With the looming mid-September deadline to vote on the Iran nuclear deal and myriad budget issues to be resolved by Oct. 1, many are skeptical that lawmakers will have the floor time to consider CISA.
To try and fit everything in, senators on Wednesday said they were working to tie any floor time agreement on CISA to a deal that would structure debate on Iran.
The current deal on cyber amendments would allow both parties to agree to offer more edits after lawmakers have worked through the first 21.
The bill has been hung up for months over privacy concerns and lost amid a tight Senate calendar.
While CISA supporters argue enhancing cyber threat information-sharing is a necessity to better understand and repel potential cyberattacks, digital privacy advocates believe the bill will simply funnel more sensitive data on American citizens to government intelligence agencies.
Democratic leaders have refused to move on the bill until striking a deal that would allow privacy-minded senators, like Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Energy & Environment — High court will hear case on water rule Democrats face scaled-back agenda after setbacks Biden comments add momentum to spending bill's climate measures MORE (D-Ore.), to offer some of their desired amendments.