Lawmakers to consider new compromise cybersecurity bill before defense budget

Several top lawmakers in a July 24 press briefing on Capitol Hill announced a new deal on cybersecurity legislation, and are expected to take up the compromise bill by the end of the week given the urgency of preventing a “cyber 9/11.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has reportedly said the cybersecurity bill will be next up for consideration on the floor, a move that drew criticism from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) earlier in the week.

McCain blasted the decision to consider the cybersecurity bill ahead of the waiting defense authorization bill, but at the press conference, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) defended the move.

“In terms of urgency, I believe the cybersecurity bill is more urgent,” Lieberman said. “We’re not imagining this threat. We’re being attacked through cyberspace every day. The reality is a lot of the private companies that own critical cyber infrastructure are doing a good job in defending that cyber infrastructure and our country, but a lot of them are not.”

The compromise bill contains amendments to the bipartisan Cybersecurity Act of 2012, which Lieberman introduced. The amendments are intended to address some of the concerns of Republicans, who have introduced separate cybersecurity legislation featuring a more hands-off approach. 

“This bipartisan bill is the result of compromise,” Lieberman said at the briefing, where he was flanked by four other bill co-sponsors. “We co-sponsors, to be blunt, gave up some things that we thought were important in our original bill, but given the urgency and seriousness of the cyber threat to our country, we thought it was more important to move forward with a bill that we’re confident will significantly strengthen our cybersecurity.”

The senators at the press briefing said the new bill is lighter on regulatory mandates that would have come from the Homeland Security Department, and instead focuses more on incentives, such as liability protection, for businesses – including those managing critical infrastructure – that participate.

“Instead of sticks, we’re using carrots,” said Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), who highlighted the bill’s emphasis on public-private partnership while cautioning that this bill “is not the finish line.”

Carper said the bill includes framework for sharing cyber threat information between the private sector and government, and also includes security measures such as plans for replacing outdated paper-based security practices with more agile, real-time systems that continuously monitor networks and assets.

Additionally, there are provisions for investment in cybersecurity training and educational programs for the next-generation working class, as well as prioritized research and development in cyber technology, Carper noted.

"This is the best chance to pass a cybersecurity bill this year, which should be a priority for all of us,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who expressed confidence that the changes to the bill would likely garner enough GOP votes to push the bill through.

About the Author

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

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.

Featured

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1996, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

  • Shutterstock image.

    Merged IT modernization bill punts on funding

    A House panel approved a new IT modernization bill that appears poised to pass, but key funding questions are left for appropriators.

  • General Frost

    Army wants cyber capability everywhere

    The Army's cyber director said cyber, electronic warfare and information operations must be integrated into warfighters' doctrine and training.

  • Rising Star 2013

    Meet the 2016 Rising Stars

    FCW honors 30 early-career leaders in federal IT.

Reader comments

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

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group