Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Everyone agrees such legislation needs to be passed, but nobody can agree what exactly should be in it.
The issue is how best to make the nation's critical infrastructure – such as water facilities and the electric power grid – secure from cyberattack. The rub is that many such systems are privately owned, meaning anything Congress does could be construed as onerous new regulation.
A package of cybersecurity measures passed the House in April, with bipartisan support. However, consensus in the Senate has been much harder to achieve. Leaders of both parties and the Senate’s lead cybersecurity legislator, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I) of Connecticut, worked furiously to reach a compromise on rules that would strike a balance between government imposition of private-sector cybersecurity standards and ensuring that the nation is protected from cyberthreats – right up until leaving town Aug. 2.
But chances for passage were scuttled by opposition from the US Chamber of Commerce and concern by GOP lawmakers that the compromise legislation is still too heavy-handed. Republicans say the bill came up too close to the August recess; with more time, they say, they’ll be able to get to a deal.
Senator Lieberman is not so hopeful, noting that the bill (which has several Republican cosponsors) has already been repeatedly altered to win GOP support.