Senate majority leader says cybersecurity bill will move soon

“I put everyone on notice: We are going to move this bill at the earliest possible date”, Reid was quoted by The Hill newspaper as saying Tuesday.

In his prepared remarks on the Senate floor, Reid said that the Cybersecurity Act, sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Me.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.), and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), is an “excellent piece of legislation, and it’s been endorsed by many members of the national security community.”

Reid said that he and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had received a letter from a group of former Bush and Obama administration national security officials who urged the Senate to pass cybersecurity legislation.

In the letter, the group called the threat of a cyber attack “imminent” and said it “represents the most serious challenge to our national security since the onset of the nuclear age sixty years ago”, Reid explained. The letter noted that the top cybersecurity priority is safeguarding critical infrastructure.

Republican lawmakers, led by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), have come out strongly against the Cybersecurity Act, which they criticize as involving too much government regulation of the private sector. They have proposed an alternative bill, which focuses more on information sharing and private sector incentives to improve cybersecurity.

Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Jon Kyle (R-Ariz.) recently proposed a compromise bill that would put the Department of Homeland Security in charge of a program to encourage, but not require, private sector operators of critical infrastructure to improve their cybersecurity.

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