Six Republican senators plan to unveil a cybersecurity bill on Thursday to compete with legislation backed by Senate Democratic leaders and the White House.
The Strengthening and Enhancing Cybersecurity by Using Research, Education, Information, and Technology (SECURE IT) Act would use more incentives, rather than regulation, to spur companies to adopt cybersecurity measures.
Two weeks ago at a hearing on the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, which is being championed by Senate Homeland Security Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., aired a laundry list of concerns about that bill.
"If the legislation before us today were enacted into law, unelected bureaucrats at the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) could promulgate prescriptive regulations on American businesses - which own roughly 90 percent of critical cyber infrastructure," McCain said of Lieberman's bill. "The fundamental difference in our alternative approach is that we aim to enter into a cooperative relationship with the entire private sector through information sharing, rather than an adversarial one with prescriptive regulations."
Lieberman said on Tuesday that he is "open to negotiating" with McCain and other Republicans on the issue. While Republicans have also complained about the process for debating the Cybersecurity Act, "hopefully we can come together and agree on a way to go forward because nobody disagrees with the argument that our country is vulnerable to cyberattacks today," Lieberman said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., plans to bring the Cybersecurity Act to the Senate floor without an official markup by committee, and Lieberman said he hopes the bill will come up after the debate on postal reform.
McCain, who is the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, will be joined by Commerce Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas; Judiciary Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Intelligence Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.; Energy and Natural Resources Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; and Sen. Dan Coats, R-Indiana.