More than half a dozen Republican Senate committee leaders reintroduced a cybersecurity bill on Wednesday, setting the stage for a showdown as soon as next month.
Senate Democrats and the White House are pushing the Cybersecurity Act of 2012. But Republicans say that bill gives the Department of Homeland Security too much authority to oversee certain critical computer networks.
Senate Commerce Committee ranking Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, took to the Senate floor on Wednesday to urge senators to support the GOP-backed Secure IT Act.
The Secure IT Act contains many similar information sharing and federal IT security provisions as the Cybersecurity Act, but it provides DHS with no new authority to oversee private networks that control such things as electric grids or water systems.
The Secure IT Act, Hutchison said, is a balanced approach to cybersecurity and one that both the House and Senate can agree on. "Secure IT is centered on concensus items," she said.
The act was first introduced months ago, but Hutchison said it had been tweaked to expand privacy protections and oversight.
The White House and the Senate sponsors of the Cybersecurity Act say that without more authority for DHS, critical networks will remain unprotected. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said he hopes to bring cybersecurity legislation to the floor as soon as July.