Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., rejected calls on Tuesday to delay debate on cybersecurity legislation.
“I argue we need to move rapidly to address a gaping hole in our defenses against cyberattack,” Reid said in a floor speech. He pushed back against suggestions by Senate Armed Services ranking member John McCain, R-Ariz., who on Monday called for the Senate to move on the defense authorization bill rather than rush to consider a “flawed” cybersecurity bill.
But Reid said that defense-authorization issues remain unresolved and acting on cybersecurity is equally important to protecting national security.
“Failing to act on cybersecurity legislation not only puts our national security at risk, it recklessly endangers … members of our armed forces and missions around the world,” Reid said.
The Cybersecurity Act of 2012 is backed by the White House, but Republicans and businesses have balked at what they see as too much government regulation.
McCain has been a leading critic of the bill and said that the Senate should instead focus on defense spending. “The cybersecurity bill that [Reid] intends to call up later this week is greatly in need of improvement,” McCain said on Monday.
A motion to proceed to the cybersecurity bill is currently scheduled for consideration as soon as Wednesday, with a vote on that procedural measure later in the week and a final vote expected before the Senate leaves for its August recess.
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., a cosponsor of the Cybersecurity Act, says that despite the criticism, the bill is a result of unprecedented give and take between the two parties and with industry.