Key Senate Democrats back passage of cybersecurity legislation

The legislation, the Cyber Security and American Cyber Competitiveness Act (S. 21), is sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and chairs of seven committees with jurisdiction over cybersecurity: Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.).

The legislation expresses the “sense of Congress” and therefore would not create any laws regarding cybersecurity. However, it does highlight the fact that the Senate majority leader and committee chairs see passage of cybersecurity legislation as a priority in this Congress. The devil, as the saying goes, is in the details. And the House, which would also have to pass cybersecurity legislation for it to become law, is now controlled by the Republicans.

In a statement introducing the legislation, Reid said: “Cyber attack could, for example, bring down our nation's air traffic control system in a matter of seconds, with devastating impact on the economic vitality of tourist destinations throughout Nevada and our country. We must strengthen security to ensure that never happens.”

Lieberman, who introduced cybersecurity legislation in the last Congress, said he was encouraged that Reid is “making cybersecurity legislation a priority” and urged the Obama administration “to do the same and engage in the legislative processes as soon as possible.”

According to The Hill, an aide to Reid said that is not clear how the Senate will proceed with the cybersecurity legislation, whether a comprehensive reform bill would be introduced, or whether each committee chair would craft their own portion of cybersecurity legislation.

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