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Republicans Signal Move to Consideration of Cybersecurity Bill

At press time, it appeared the Senate would proceed to
consideration of the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 (S.3414), but Senator John
McCain (R-Ariz.) said he had talked to his colleagues in the Republican-led
House and they were not supportive of it as currently constituted.

Senate Republicans signaled they would vote to proceed to
debate and a vote on a primarily Democrat-backed cybersecurity bill so long as
there was an open amendment process. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has agreed to
that open process, according to Sen. Joe Lieberman (Ind-Conn.), so long as the
amendments are germane.

If the cloture vote to proceed to consideration is approved --
it requires a three-fifths majority -- backers of a separate, Republican-backedbill, the Secure IT Act, will be introduced by those Republicans as a

Republicans were arguing on the Senate floor Thursday that
for all S. 314 backers talk about modifying the bill to make its cybersecurity
standards for critical infrastructure protection voluntary, that was not really
the case.

McCain, a cosponsor of the Secure IT Act, said that although
the bill claimed those standards were now voluntary, any notion of voluntary
"evaporates" upon a closer reading of the legislation. The bill gives
the authority of that regulate critical infrastructure -- that would include
the FCC -- to make those voluntary standards mandatory. What's more, he said,
the bill requires that any agency that does not make those standards voluntary
to explain why it didn't.

McCain mocked S. 3414's inclusion of cybersecurity talent
shows for kids and other outreach efforts to kids. He also complained that the
bill had not been the subject of any hearings, or "a whiff" of
regular order.

Sen. Lieberman and cosponsor Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me.) said
the bill was a compromise, that the voluntary portions were voluntary, and that
it was critical to pass it ASAP. Sen. Christopher Coons (D-Del.) said the bill
now struck a balance and that real progress had been made.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) pointed out that all the
ranking members of the relevant committees with the exception of Collins did
not support the bill.

Sen. Al Franken (D- Minn.) called the cybersecurity Act of
2012 "the only game in town." He said the Secure IT act gives
immunity for knowing violations of privacy, like sending users e-mails to the
National Security Agency, a big difference from 3414.

But Franken's support of 3414 was not unalloyed.

The Cybersecurity Act does give ISPS a brand new right to
monitor and take countermeasures with impunity, a "snooping," right
as Franken called it, that he does not like. He said he would introduce an
amendment to strike that, and added that he has seven cosponsors.