“It’s hard to get a measure like cybersecurity legislation passed on its own,” Democratic Senator Thomas Carper, who is co-chair of a Senate subcommittee with cybersecurity oversight, told Government Information Security.
That’s why lawmakers pushing cybersecurity have resolved to introduce the legislation as a “rider” to a Senate defense bill that is likely to be easily passed before the midterm elections.
Senators are still working to merge two different versions of the cybersecurity bill, one sponsored by Senator Joe Lieberman and another sponsored by Democrat Jay Rockefeller, into a single omnibus package, in preparation for a final vote when the Senate returns to session in mid-September.
“We’re very close to where we need to be in developing a joint proposal,” said Carper.
Lawmakers are in a race to pass cybersecurity before the midterms because if they wait until Congress returns after the November 2nd vote, the chances of getting the bill through “would significantly dim should the Republicans pick up a significant number of seats”. That leaves a four week window from the middle of September to the start of election campaigning for Senators to sneak through the legislation.
Lieberman’s version of the cybersecurity bill includes language that would hand President Obama the power to shut down parts of the world wide web for at least four months with no congressional oversight in the event of a cyber attack on critical infrastructure systems in the U.S.
Senators argue that they will be able to attach the Internet kill switch bill to the Defense Authorization Act because cybersecurity is a component of national security. However, the primary justifications behind treating “cybersecurity” as a national security matter are completely overblown and erroneous.
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