Rockefeller aims to add cyber overhaul to defense bill

Measure would provide a statutory framework to some elements of President Barack Obama's executive order on cybersecurity.

Jay Rockefeller

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) wants to add his cybersecurity legislation to the $625 billion defense authorization bill currently under consideration in the Senate.

The Senate recessed for the two-week Thanksgiving break without voting on the $625 billion defense authorization bill, and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) hopes to add his cybersecurity legislation to the measure when lawmakers return in December.

The senator said his bill, approved in July by the Commerce Committee that he chairs, has "been sitting on the sidelines for too long and there's too much at stake to not look for every opportunity to pass it in the Senate."

The measure would provide a legislative framework to some of the elements of President Barack Obama's 2013 executive order on cybersecurity. It would put the National Institute of Standards and Technology in charge of efforts to facilitate voluntary standards for protecting critical infrastructure and require the White House Office of Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation to conduct cybersecurity research and fund grant activities for workforce education.

"The Commerce Committee took action months ago and unanimously passed this bipartisan bill that will improve the nation's cybersecurity," Rockefeller said in a statement. Armed Services Committee chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) have expressed support for the idea of adding the measure to the defense bill, but it is just one of more than 500 amendments the leaders are trying to winnow down to a manageable level before floor debate resumes Dec. 9.

A number of proposals for federal IT reform are also included among the long list of amendments.

The slow pace of progress has Levin and his counterpart, House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), worried that the year could end without a defense bill in place for the first time in more than a half century.

"Time is running short to reach an agreement this year, but it has not yet run out. There are still pathways to passage for this vital bill. We urge the Senate to resume ... consideration as soon as they return from their Thanksgiving recess," McKeon said in a statement.

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