US cybersecurity bill fails again

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Nov 16 2012 12:02 AM | Updated as of Nov 16 2012 08:02 AM

WASHINGTON - US lawmakers traded barbs Thursday after cybersecurity legislation backed by President Barack Obama failed in the Senate for the second time in three months.

In the lame-duck session, the bill aimed at protecting US "critical infrastructure" from cyber attacks failed to get the necessary 60 votes late Wednesday to proceed under Senate rules. It was backed by a 51-47 vote.

"Once again, Senate Republicans have chosen to filibuster much-needed cybersecurity legislation and, in so doing, have ignored the advice of the country's most senior military and national security officials," said Senator Jay Rockefeller, a key backer of the measure.

"Republican members have once again sided with the Chamber of Commerce, and not our military officials, on a national security issue."

Republican Senator Charles Grassley, however, claimed the bill was "flawed" and failed to see adequate debate.

"No one disputes the need for Congress to address cybersecurity," Grassley said.

"However, members do disagree with the notion this problem requires legislation that increases the size of the federal government bureaucracy and places new burdens and regulation on businesses."

The measure was blocked amid opposition from an unusual coalition of civil libertarians -- who feared it could allow too much government snooping -- and conservatives who said it would create a new bureaucracy.

US military officials have argued that legislation is needed to protect infrastructure critical to safeguarding national defense, including power grids, water systems and industries ranging from transportation to communication.

Some industry leaders expressed disappointment on the failure of the bill.

"Stalemate doesn't make the issue go away," said Software Alliance president Robert Holleyman.

"There is no getting around the fact that we need to bolster America's cybersecurity capabilities. We urge both parties to put this issue at the top of the agenda in the next Congress."