Democrats’ hopes for passing cybersecurity legislation were put on hold this week, as the Senate on Thursday failed to pass a bill aiming to protect the nation’s critical infrastructure from looming cyber attacks.
In a 52-46 vote, the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 fell short of the 60 votes needed to reach cloture to end debates.
After seeing several rounds of revisions, the scrubbed bill intended to offer incentives to the private sector for voluntarily sharing information with and meeting cybersecurity standards set by the government.
But in the recent weeks, more than 70 amendments were added to the bill “bombarding” it with provisions on privacy, as well as irrelevant issues on gun control and health care, according to CNET.
Looking past the potential hang-ups, earlier in the week, Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency and head of the US Cyber Command, sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) urging him to work on the cross-aisle cohesion needed to pass the bill.
“The cyber threat facing the Nation is real and demands immediate action,” Gen. Alexander advised. “The time to act is now; we simply cannot afford further delay.”
But continued delay will be the case for the stalled cyber bill, as time is running out for Congress to pass legislation in 2012.
“It’s hard to see that today is anything but a failure of the Senate and a setback for our national security,” Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), a co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement on Thursday.
“In all my years working to identify vulnerabilities to our national security, I can’t think of an area where the threat is greater and where we have done less,” added bill co-sponsor Sen. Collins (R-Maine).
Backing the Senate GOP’s block of the bill, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told the Associated Press that Democrats had previously “steamrolled” a more suitable bill.
And as the divide will continue in Washington, McConnell went on to add, “No one doubts the need to strengthen our nation’s cybersecurity defenses.”