Senate Intel chair: Still no deal on cyber bill

Senate Intel chair: Still no deal on cyber bill
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Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrOvernight Health Care — Senators unveil pandemic prep overhaul Bipartisan senators unveil bill to improve pandemic preparedness These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 MORE told reporters Monday night that lawmakers had still not reached a final deal on a major cybersecurity bill.

“We’ve still got one or two issues left,” the North Carolina Republican said.

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The remaining differences could imperil the legislation’s chances of moving this week on an omnibus spending bill expected ahead of a Wednesday deadline.

“I’m not sure we’re going to be through with negotiations before either midnight tonight or sometime tomorrow morning when they’ve got to file this [omnibus],” he added.

For several days, lawmakers have been on the cusp of completing the compromise text of a cyber bill that would encourage businesses to share more data on hackers with the government.

Negotiators have been working on the language since the Senate passed its Intelligence Committee-originated bill in October, six months after the House passed two complementary bills: one from the Intelligence panel, another from Homeland Security.

But a series of 11th-hour debates over the measure’s privacy language have drawn out the talks.

While many industry groups, lawmakers and even the White House insist the bill is a necessary first step in the fight against hackers, civil liberties groups and some lawmakers have warned the legislation could allow the intelligence community to collect more private data on Americans and are pushing for stronger privacy provisions.

The last-minute delay has endangered lawmakers’ hopes of getting a final bill on President Obama’s desk by the new year.

House leaders have been considering attaching the finished cyber language to a sweeping omnibus spending bill in order to punch it through Congress in the final days of the 2015 legislative calendar.

But with the omnibus potentially hours away, the cyber negotiators face a rapidly approaching deadline to hammer out their differences.

Burr said all sides are “close to finishing negotiations,” a line that the cyber bill’s backers have been using since the middle of last week.

Even if the cyber text doesn’t end up in the omnibus, Burr stressed the measure could still move as a standalone bill shortly after the new year.

“I’ve always intended to move it as a standalone,” he said.