Senators call for action on cybersecurity

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The senators participating in the colloquy on Thursday have been involved in an bipartisan effort led by Sens. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseCitizens United decision weathers 10 years of controversy Sanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial MORE (D-R.I.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) to find a compromise on provisions that would incentivize critical infrastructure to meet a set of security standards. The compromise effort is an attempt to find a middle ground on provisions in Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (I-Conn.) cybersecurity bill that would mandate critical infrastructure operators to meet security standards.

Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntSekulow indicates White House not interested in motion to dismiss impeachment articles Nadler gets under GOP's skin Grassley signs USMCA, sending it to Trump's desk MORE (R-Mo.) emphasized that critical infrastructure measures won’t apply to every industry sector. He said senators involved in the compromise effort have been working hard to define “specifically, in the most limited way possible, what is critical to the ongoing daily operation of the country.”

“I hope the Senate turns to this issue and has a full and free debate,” he said.

Whitehouse thanked Sens. Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsSchiff schedules public hearing with US intel chief  Rod Rosenstein joins law and lobbying firm DHS issues bulletin warning of potential Iranian cyberattack MORE (R-Ind.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamDemocrats hammer abuse of power charge, allege Trump put self over country Video becomes vital part of Democrats' case against Trump Nadler plays 1999 clip of Graham defining high crimes: 'It doesn't even have to be a crime' MORE (R-S.C.) for their participation in the compromise discussions.

The senators noted that the recent storms that left areas of Washington, D.C., and Maryland without power should serve as a wake-up call for the upper chamber to act on cybersecurity. They said if a hacker wipes out utilities systems or financial networks, it would take longer to get those systems back up and running.

“That storm was an act of God. That storm was just a random meteorological event,” said Sen. Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsHillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Bezos phone breach raises fears over Saudi hacking | Amazon seeks to halt Microsoft's work on 'war cloud' | Lawmakers unveil surveillance reform bill Bezos phone breach escalates fears over Saudi hacking Democrats shoot down talk of Bolton, Hunter Biden witness swap MORE (D-Del.). “We know as members of the United States Senate that there are daily efforts at attacks on the United States far more devastating, far more far reaching than that transitory storm. And for us not to act, for us to fail to act in a bipartisan, thoughtful and responsible way would be the worst sort of dereliction of duty.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) noted “this kind of amassing of senatorial consensus, if I may put it that way, reflects the immediacy of this problem.”