Cybersecurity legislation may be dead, but the Senate is still arguing over who killed it

Cybersecurity legislation may be dead, but the Senate is still arguing over who killed it

The stalling, bickering, almost-breakthrough, and eventual demise of cybersecurity legislation in the United States Senate was a sad thing to watch. Compromise failed, leaving the issue unresolved as the Senate went into recess. Critically, the time that the legislative body spent on cybersecurity forced an important defense bill off of its plate entirely. It’s been a mess, in other words.

Two weeks ago, when the whole ordeal fell down, TNW commented on the level of blame that was immeidaltey fired in all directions. The White House, which had argued for the passage of the bill authored by Sen. Lieberman doled on invective, as did leaders of both the majority and minority parties. As we noted in our headline: “According to Washington, cybersecurity’s failure is everyone’s fault at the same time.”

The game is still afoot, believe it or not, with a release from 9 Senators today blaming their opposing party for, well, all of it. You can read the full statement here, but what follows is the critical passage:

[T]he Majority Leader circumvented the legislative process and refused to allow any amendments to be voted on in committee or on the floor of the Senate. Unfortunately, rather than allowing the process to move forward and amendments to be considered, the Majority Leader and the White House shut down debate, forced a vote they knew would lose and blamed Republicans for the failure.

Here, Sen. Reid is fingered as the man to take on all responsilibuty for the goat rodeo that was the final week of cybersecurity work in the Senate.

But is that fair? Perhaps not exactly. We turn to The Hill’s report from earlier today, on this issue:

Leslie Phillips, a spokeswoman for Lieberman, also took issue with the GOP statement. The co-sponsors of the Cybersecurity Act “went hoarse” asking Republican members to submit a list of relevant amendments, which they have still not submitted, she said. Phillips also disagreed with the claim that there was an agreement on how to move forward with the cybersecurity legislation.

Adding to that, Reid’s spokesperson accused the Senate Republicans of tacking utterly unrelated issues to the bill (abortion in the capital!). As you certainly recall, Lieberman was forced to publicly beg ask for focus. In the end, over 200 amendments were filed. It didn’t take.

Where does that leave us? Nowhere, really. The deadline that Lieberman drew in the sand has passed. It seems unlikely that there is sufficient time coming to fully grapple with cybersecurity, given that there has been little reason to believe that there is new momentum on the issue. There’s been talk about the President taking action via executive order, but that’s remained discussion and not action.

If I was to lean on cliched thought, I would point out that if Congress used the time and energy that it expends on public sniping instead on finding compromise, well, you get the idea.

Top Image Credit: ttarasiuk

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