Bipartisan cybersecurity bill fails on the Senate floor

The Senate on Aug. 2 failed to pass a bipartisan cybersecurity bill long in the making after a Republican filibuster blocked a final vote.

The legislation failed despite efforts to bridge the divide between Democrats and Republicans. In recent weeks lawmakers, led by bill co-sponsor Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn), had been compromising on measures in the legislation causing the most disagreement, but it wasn’t enough.

A group of Republican senators, led by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), remained opposed to the bill, contending it still placed too much burden on corporations, even though measures imposing security requirements had been watered down to instead offer incentives for participation.

The bill is a top national security priority for the Obama administration, which issued a statement shortly after the breakdown was announced that condemned the failure to come together on a critical, national threat.

“The politics of obstructionism, driven by special interest groups seeking to avoid accountability, prevented Congress from passing legislation to better protect our nation from potentially catastrophic cyber attacks,” the statement said.

Earlier in the week, the bill began to lose steam amid arguments over what amendments would be included. One of those amendments could have added urgency to the government's effort to consolidate data centers.

The failed passage comes as Congress prepares to head into recess. While prospects are dim for a successful revival in September, they are not completely extinguished.

“The critical ingredient now is to get the irrelevant, non-germane amendments off and to agree on a limited number of amendments and then let the Senate work its will,” Lieberman said in a press conference, per The Hill. “We know it will really be a shame and a terrible embarrassment and a gross failure if we don't at least debate this on the floor and let the body work its will.”

The bill’s other and sole Republican co-sponsor, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), called it a “shameful day.”

“It is just incomprehensible to me that we would not proceed to this bill," she said. "There certainly is plenty of blame to go around, but I believe with good faith on both sides we could have completed action on this issue."

Still, some Republicans who helped prevent the bill’s passage seemed confident in the possibility that the act will be taken up again when Congress returns.

“This bill will be back because it must be back,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “So this vote today is not the end of the discussion, but rather the beginning of the discussion.”

Lieberman also was hopeful, but acknowledged the difficulties ahead.

“I hope and pray that we can find a way to get back to common ground to protect America’s common ground,” he said at a press conference following the vote, per The Hill. “But it’s hard to see today as anything but a failure of the Senate and a setback for our national security.”

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

The 2015 Federal 100

Meet 100 women and men who are doing great things in federal IT.

Featured

  • Shutterstock image (by venimo): e-learning concept image, digital content and online webinar icons.

    Can MOOCs make the grade for federal training?

    Massive open online courses can offer specialized IT instruction on a flexible schedule and on the cheap. That may not always mesh with government's preference for structure and certification, however.

  • Shutterstock image (by edel): graduation cap and diploma.

    Cybersecurity: 6 schools with the right stuff

    The federal government craves more cybersecurity professionals. These six schools are helping meet that demand.

  • Rick Holgate

    Holgate to depart ATF

    Former ACT president will take a job with Gartner, follow his spouse to Vienna, Austria.

  • Are VA techies slacking off on Yammer?

    A new IG report cites security and productivity concerns associated with employees' use of the popular online collaboration tool.

  • Shutterstock image: digital fingerprint, cyber crime.

    Exclusive: The OPM breach details you haven't seen

    An official timeline of the Office of Personnel Management breach obtained by FCW pinpoints the hackers’ calibrated extraction of data, and the government's step-by-step response.

  • Stephen Warren

    Deputy CIO Warren exits VA

    The onetime acting CIO at Veterans Affairs will be taking over CIO duties at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

  • Shutterstock image: monitoring factors of healthcare.

    DOD awards massive health records contract

    Leidos, Accenture and Cerner pull off an unexpected win of the multi-billion-dollar Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization contract, beating out the presumptive health-records leader.

  • Sweating the OPM data breach -- Illustration by Dragutin Cvijanovic

    Sweating the stolen data

    Millions of background-check records were compromised, OPM now says. Here's the jaw-dropping range of personal data that was exposed.

  • FCW magazine

    Let's talk about Alliant 2

    The General Services Administration is going to great lengths to gather feedback on its IT services GWAC. Will it make for a better acquisition vehicle?

Reader comments

Fri, Aug 3, 2012

The headline on this article is incorrect. The bill did not fail. The Senate failed.

Fri, Aug 3, 2012 Confused.


“The critical ingredient now is to get the irrelevant, non-germane amendments off and to agree on a limited number of amendments and then let the Senate work its will,” Lieberman said in a press conference
I thought that Congress was there to represent the will of the people. this just further illustrates the elitist mentality of Congress

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above