The fate of the Senate's cybersecurity reform measure now hinges on amendments — and bill sponsors, the White House and top Republicans have all drawn their lines in the sand.
The challenge for the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 after a key procedural vote Thursday is whether a growing number of amendments can resolve enough differences to attract GOP support in the Senate — and, ultimately, the House, too — while not completely removing the teeth that Democrats and the Obama administration think is essential to protect the nation from cyber threats.
Some Republicans are angling for a broad set of revisions to the critical infrastructure and information sharing bill, and a bloc of GOP members plans to pitch its own cybersecurity measure — the SECURE IT Act — as an amendment during the forthcoming floor debate. That rival bill leaves out any mention of cybersecurity protections for critical infrastructure, a change to the legislation that the White House indicated Thursday it would not support.
Other amendments lawmakers are promising could add new provisions to the bill meant to improve energy-grid security or require tech companies to disclose when they have been breached by hackers.
There are also members angling to amplify the privacy safeguards in the measure, or revise its section on liability protection.
The coming debate over those changes and others is going to be critical for the bill’s backers as they canvass the chamber for votes and seek passage before the August break. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid already has made clear he will permit a broad swath of amendments — so long as they're germane — as sponsors try to cobble together a compromise that can clear the Senate and yet still prove appealing to the House.