Week ahead: Cyber bill faces final vote

Tuesday will be the day of reckoning for the Senate’s most comprehensive cybersecurity bill to-date.

After months of maneuvering, backers of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) have finally been able to schedule a final vote on the bill, which would encourage companies to share data on hacking threats with the government.

The measure has spurred contentious debate on Capitol Hill, with privacy-minded senators and a growing number of tech companies arguing the bill will merely shuttle more of Americans’ personal data to the government without actually bolstering cyber defenses.


CISA's proponents — including a large bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, many industry groups and the White House — counter that the bill is a necessary first step to help the country better understand and block overseas hackers.

Both sides will make their last stands during a packed Tuesday on the Senate floor. Eight amendments are scheduled for votes throughout the day, before Senate leaders are expected to move to end debate on CISA and take a final vote.

A slew of privacy focused amendments from leading CISA critics Sens. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenTina Smith and Jason Lewis tied in Minnesota Ted Cruz mocks Al Franken over 'I Hate Ted Cruz Pint Glass' GOP Senate candidate says Trump, Republicans will surprise in Minnesota MORE (D-Minn.), Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Lobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (R-Nev.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyWorking together to effectively address patient identification during COVID-19 Schumer says he had 'serious talk' with Feinstein, declines to comment on Judiciary role Durbin says he will run for No. 2 spot if Dems win Senate majority MORE (D-Vt.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOn The Money: Dow falls more than 900 points amid fears of new COVID-19 restrictions | Democrats press Trump Org. about president's Chinese bank account | Boeing plans thousands of additional job cuts Democrats press Trump Organization about president's Chinese bank account Plaintiff and defendant from Obergefell v. Hodges unite to oppose Barrett's confirmation MORE (D-Ore.) will all get an up-or-down vote.

Together, the edits would heighten the bar for scrubbing personal details from the data being handed to the government, limit the types of information the government can receive and eradicate what critics say are anti-transparency clauses in the bill.

But none of amendments are expected to pass, according to many lobbyists. Wyden told reporters he is holding out hope and believes he can win over more votes in the coming days.

“When you have a reactive Congress — we’ve all seen these cyberattacks — and somebody says here’s a cybersecurity bill, you always have a big educational challenge,” he said.

Privacy advocates have also turned their attention toward a more achievable goal: Killing an amendment from Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonCotton mocks NY Times over claim of nonpartisanship, promises to submit op-eds as test Barrett fight puts focus on abortion in 2020 election COVID outbreak threatens GOP's Supreme Court plans MORE (R-Ark.) that would facilitate a direct data transfer between businesses and the FBI and Secret Service. Currently, the bill encourages companies to go through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), with some limited exceptions.

Industry proponents say the edit would allow companies to continue communicating with long-standing law enforcement partners critical to fighting cyber crime. But privacy groups say it would merely let companies and the government skirt important DHS privacy protections.

The White House essentially warned lawmakers not to approve Cotton’s offering in its official CISA endorsement, issued late Thursday.

The administration's approval was the icing on the cake for CISA supporters, following a week of legislative momentum on their bill.

On Tuesday, Sens. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrAs Trump downplayed the virus publicly, memo based on private briefings sparked stock sell-offs: NYT Hillicon Valley: Subpoenas for Facebook, Google and Twitter on the cards | Wray rebuffs mail-in voting conspiracies | Reps. raise mass surveillance concerns Bipartisan representatives demand answers on expired surveillance programs MORE (R-N.C.) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinPence seeks to lift GOP in battle for Senate McConnell and Schumer's relationship shredded after court brawl Murkowski predicts Barrett won't overturn Roe v. Wade MORE (D-Calif.), CISA’s co-sponsors, unveiled a manager’s package that included a slate of amendments intended to help assuage the privacy concerns of on-the-fence senators and the White House.

Two days later, 83 senators voted to end debate on the package and move to a final vote on the amendments. In its endorsement, the White House specifically lauded the Burr-Feinstein edits.

“This work has strengthened the legislation and incorporated important modifications to better protect privacy,” the White House said.

CISA proponents also got a positive sign when lawmakers shot down a contested amendment from Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTrump says ex-staffer who penned 'Anonymous' op-ed should be 'prosecuted' CIA impeachment whistleblower forced to live under surveillance due to threats: report Rand Paul rips 'leftwing media' for focusing on COVID-19 cases: 'Mortality rates are plummeting' MORE (R-Ky.). His proposal would have stripped legal liabilities provided to companies sharing data under CISA if those firms were caught breaking a user or privacy agreement with its customers in the process. It received 32 votes, short of the majority needed for adoption.

“I was told that it was a bill killer by particularly the health industry, as well as others out there,” Feinstein told reporters after the vote. "We got a good vote."



Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has thrown his support behind CISA: http://bit.ly/1GvJvUN

Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyBitter fight over Barrett fuels calls to nix filibuster, expand court Democrats warn GOP will regret Barrett confirmation Democrats brace for nail-biting finish to Senate battle MORE (D-Conn.) is no longer offering a CISA amendment over concerns it would be ruled “non-germane” and not receive a vote: http://bit.ly/1jXglDG

Apple is staking out a public position against CISA, just as the Senate takes up the long-stalled legislation: http://bit.ly/203PTt1

Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillBiden and Schumer face battles with left if Democrats win big Harris walks fine line on Barrett as election nears Fox's Bongino, MSNBC's McCaskill trade blows over Trump ride: 'You epic piece of garbage' MORE (D-Mo.) accused Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonOvernight Defense: Trump campaign's use of military helicopter raises ethics concerns | Air Force jets intercept aircraft over Trump rally | Senators introduce bill to expand visa screenings Senators introduce bipartisan bill to expand screening of foreign visitors Democrat announces 2022 bid for Ron Johnson's seat MORE (R-Wis.) of selectively leaking information about the security of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillary Clinton responds to Chrissy Teigen tweet: 'I love you back' Trump fights for battleground Arizona Biden leads Trump by 12 in new national poll MORE’s personal email server: http://bit.ly/1QX7Xih

Johnson defended his investigation, arguing his releases are meant to show transparency: http://bit.ly/1W6j7ml