Defense & National Security

Senate cybersecurity bill fails cloture vote

Senate cybersecurity bill fails cloture vote

The Senate voted against ending debate on a controversial cybersecurity bill 52 to 46, mostly along party lines, Thursday leaving little hope for the White House backed plan to move forward before the August recess.

The bill, known officially as the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 (S.3414), but more commonly referred to as Lieberman-Collins was intended to reduce cyber attacks through annual reports and sweeping regulations carried out by the National Research Council, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Departments of State, Homeland Security and Defense.

Senate Republicans, in statements echoed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, voiced concerns that the Lieberman-Collins bill would give federal regulators too much power and did little to protect businesses that share and would be required to share information on cyber threats with the government. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), said on the Senate floor Wednesday that “The people who are directly affected by this, and that’s the business community of the United States of America, is unalterably opposed to the legislation in its present form.”

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who filed to end debate on the bill by cloture, accused Republicans of playing politics in an election year, saying on the floor Wednesday, “we cannot let this bill die because of partisanship, but that is what is happening.”

Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) disputed Sen. Reid’s claim, saying “I am not so bold as to predict where we are at the end of the week, but I think there is a widespread agreement that a bill should be passed.”

But, despite late Wednesday night efforts to amend those concerns, Senators failed to produce a bipartisan outcome.

Senate Democrats lashed out at Republicans for the failure before Thursday’s vote with Sen. Reid leading the charge, accusing Republicans of pandering to special interest, saying on the floor, “We know how important this legislation is, we know it’s more important than getting a pat on the back from Chamber of Commerce.”

However, Sen. McConnell echoed his previous statements on the necessity of a cybersecurity bill and added, “We all recognize the problem, that’s really not the issue here, it’s the matter that the Majority Leader has tried to steamroll a bill.”

It’s unlikely now that any legislation aimed at cybersecurity reform will be passed before the November election.

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