• Senate Punts on Cybersecurity
  • August 10, 2015
  • Law Firm: McDonald Hopkins LLC - Cleveland Office
  • Well you can’t say that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t try. Despite his best efforts, however, the Senate finally recessed on Wednesday afternoon - a week after the House did - without a vote on the cybersecurity bill.

    The cybersecurity bill, authored by Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), would offer incentives to the private sector to share information regarding potential cybersecurity threats with the government.

    Supporters, including senators from both parties and many in the private sector, say the information sharing legislation would make for stronger cyberdefenses against hackers. But privacy advocates in and out of the Senate have raised flags about the bill's treatment of Americans' sensitive information, saying it will violate personal privacy, and security experts have questioned the bill's effectiveness.

    Senators from both sides of the aisle have called for changes to the Cyber Information Sharing Act and have put forward dozens of proposals. The amendments included offerings from the Senate's privacy advocates—Democrats Leahy (VT) and Ron Wyden (OR), and Republicans Rand Paul (KY) and Mike Lee (UT)—as well as efforts to increase the cybersecurity of federal agencies from Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Ron Johnson (R-WI).

    But not all the proposed amendments were on-topic. Paul proposed three changes that have nothing to do with cybersecurity: one to allow the government to audit the fed, another about immigration policy, and a third that would allow servicemen and servicewomen to carry weapons onto military bases.

    Paul's unrelated amendments were among the bigger hurdles that the Republican caucus had to deal with in reaching an agreement amongst themselves, a GOP Senate aide said Wednesday.

    Under the deal senators struck Wednesday afternoon, the cyber bill will come up again in September after recess, and 21 Democratic and Republican amendments will receive votes.