Cybersecurity may be dead in Congress, but the President hasn’t ruled out an executive order

Cybersecurity may be dead in Congress, but the President hasn’t ruled out an executive order

And the circus rolls on. Today, in an email received by The Hill, Press Secretary Jay Carney made a statement that is widely being interpreted as indicative that the President may be open to issuing an executive order on cybersecurity-related issues. This follows the stunning, if mildly banal, failure of leading cybersecurity legislation in the Senate last week.

To wit, Mr. Carney:

In the wake of Congressional inaction and Republican stall tactics, unfortunately, we will continue to be hamstrung by outdated and inadequate statutory authorities that the legislation would have fixed. […] Moving forward, the President is determined to do absolutely everything we can to better protect our nation against today’s cyber threats and we will do that.

In the view of The Hill, that can be read in the following way: The President may take executive action.

Exactly how far the President could go alone is a question for a room of lawyers, but the potentials here seem to politically bode well for the President. Given the extent of the White House’s lobbying for the now-failed Lieberman-Collins cybersecurity bill, executive action would be a bookend to months of Congressional stagnation. It would also dust the President’s shoulders, as the defeat of the bill was a loss for the administration. Even more, such a move would make the President out to be an actor, in contrast to a Congress whose upper house can’t move a bill through even with a simple majority.

And most importantly, the President could, if his action is well-structured, move the ball forward in regards to cybersecurity preparedness. We’re not going to go back to school on why action failed in the Senate in this piece, for that head here. However, the important gist is that with the Senate in recess, and an election just around the corner, the chance of the US Congress passing a cybersecurity bill this year is, roughly, zero.

It’s now up to the President to decide if he wants to make a move.

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