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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.

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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 FrankenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump, Biden clash over transition holdup, pandemic plans The Hill's Morning Report - Fearing defeat, Trump claims 'illegal' ballots The Hill's Morning Report - Biden inches closer to victory 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 LeahyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump OKs transition; Biden taps Treasury, State experience Durbin seeks to become top-ranking Democrat on Judiciary panel Feinstein to step down as top Democrat on Judiciary Committee MORE (D-Vt.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenTwo more parting shots from Trump aimed squarely at disabled workers On The Money: Push for student loan forgiveness puts Biden in tight spot | Trump is wild card as shutdown fears grow | Mnuchin asks Fed to return 5 billion in unspent COVID emergency funds Grassley, Wyden criticize Treasury guidance concerning PPP loans 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 CottonLoeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection More conservatives break with Trump over election claims Warnock hit by Republicans over 'cannot serve God and the military' comment 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 BurrNorth Carolina's Mark Walker expected to announce Senate bid Lara Trump mulling 2022 Senate run in North Carolina: report Cyber agency urges employees not to lose focus in wake of director's firing MORE (R-N.C.) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinWhitehouse says Democratic caucus will decide future of Judiciary Committee The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump OKs transition; Biden taps Treasury, State experience Durbin seeks to become top-ranking Democrat on Judiciary panel 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 PaulLoeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection Rick Scott tests positive for coronavirus Overnight Defense: Formal negotiations inch forward on defense bill with Confederate base name language | Senators look to block B UAE arms sales | Trump administration imposes Iran sanctions over human rights abuses 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."

 

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

Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyDemocrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks Biden decides on pick for secretary of State Overnight Defense: Formal negotiations inch forward on defense bill with Confederate base name language | Senators look to block B UAE arms sales | Trump administration imposes Iran sanctions over human rights abuses 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 McCaskillDemocrats must turn around Utah police arrest man driving 130 mph claiming he was going to kill former Missouri senator McCaskill congratulates Hawley on birth of daughter MORE (D-Mo.) accused Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonLoeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection Rick Scott tests positive for coronavirus GOP Rep. Dan Newhouse tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (R-Wis.) of selectively leaking information about the security of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonIntercept DC bureau chief says Biden picks are 'same people' from Obama years The Hill's 12:30 Report - Third vaccine candidate with 90% efficacy Biden won — so why did Trump's popularity hit its highest point ever? 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