Lieberman warns July is deadline for cybersecurity bill

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Lieberman's bill, which is co-sponsored by Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOn The Trail: The first signs of a post-Trump GOP Frustration builds as negotiators struggle to reach COVID-19 deal Shaheen, Chabot call for action on new round of PPP loans MORE (R-Maine), would encourage private companies to share information about cyber threats with one another and with the government. The bill would also empower the Homeland Security Department to set minimum cybersecurity standards for critical infrastructure systems, such as electrical grids and gas pipelines.

Supporters of the legislation, including the White House, say the mandatory standards are necessary to protect vital systems from attack.

In his speech on Wednesday, Lieberman entered into the record a letter from a bipartisan group of former national security officials calling for critical infrastructure protections. The officials warned that without the protections, the nation is at risk of suffering a "cyber 9/11."

But many Republicans, including Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainAsian American voters could make a difference in 2020 Budowsky: Trump October surprise could devastate GOP The Memo: Biden seeks to peel older voters from Trump MORE (Ariz.), argue the mandates would unnecessarily burden businesses. They say the government should only enable the private sector to protects its systems, and not dictate which security measures to take.

Sens. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseLiability shield fight threatens to blow up relief talks Democrats call for McConnell to bring Voting Rights Act to floor in honor of Lewis Hillicon Valley: Russian hackers return to spotlight with vaccine research attack | Twitter says 130 accounts targeted in this week's cyberattack | Four fired, dozens suspended in CBP probe into racist, sexist Facebook groups MORE (D-R.I.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) are working on a compromise proposal that would pressure, but not force, critical infrastructure companies to better protect their systems.

In April, the House passed its own cybersecurity bill, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which focuses only on voluntary information-sharing and would not mandate any security standards.

In his speech, Lieberman congratulated the House for taking "some initial good steps," but argued that the critical infrastructure protections must be included in the legislation that ultimately becomes law.

He thanked Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidKamala Harris to young Black women at conference: 'I want you to be ambitious' Obama calls filibuster 'Jim Crow relic,' backs new Voting Rights Act bill McConnell warns Democrats not to change filibuster rule MORE (D-Nev.), who gave his own speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday stressing his support for Lieberman's bill. Lieberman said that Reid has assured him the bill will come up for a vote in July, and he predicted that the bill will have the votes to clear the chamber.

Lieberman has said the cybersecurity bill is his top legislative priority before he retires at the end of the year.