Senate Dems to McConnell: Tying Hacking Measure With Defense Bill Is ‘Ridiculous’

“This is a pure political ploy that does nothing to advance America’s national security.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks during a news conference earlier this month in Washington.
National Journal
June 10, 2015, 12:26 p.m.

Just a week after an emo­tion­al de­bate over gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance drove Con­gress to the edge, Demo­crat­ic an­ger is again quickly mount­ing against Mitch Mc­Con­nell.

Sen­ate Demo­crat­ic lead­er­ship wrote to the ma­jor­ity lead­er on Wed­nes­day to urge him to back down from his “ri­dicu­lous” plan to at­tach cy­ber­se­cur­ity le­gis­la­tion to an an­nu­al de­fense policy bill.

The let­ter, signed by Minor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id, Minor­ity Whip Dick Durbin, and Sens. Chuck Schu­mer and Patty Mur­ray, asks Mc­Con­nell to not tack the Cy­ber­se­cur­ity In­form­a­tion Shar­ing Act on as an amend­ment to the Na­tion­al De­fense Au­thor­iz­a­tion Act, which is gen­er­ally viewed as “must-pass” le­gis­la­tion.

(RE­LATED: Sen­ate Dems to Mc­Con­nell: Ty­ing Hack­ing Meas­ure With De­fense Bill Is ‘Ri­dicu­lous’

“Adding CISA to the Na­tion­al De­fense Au­thor­iz­a­tion Act (NDAA) in a man­ner that al­lows neither de­bate nor amend­ment is ri­dicu­lous,” the Demo­crat­ic lead­ers wrote. “This is es­pe­cially true giv­en the Pres­id­ent’s com­mit­ment to veto the NDAA for un­re­lated reas­ons. This is a pure polit­ic­al ploy that does noth­ing to ad­vance Amer­ica’s na­tion­al se­cur­ity. We urge you to re­con­sider your ef­forts to jam through this im­port­ant le­gis­la­tion in a man­ner that renders it mean­ing­less.”

Mc­Con­nell on Tues­day an­nounced that he would add CISA — which passed the Sen­ate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee in March on a 14-1 vote — as an amend­ment to NDAA, not­ing the re­cent hack of the Of­fice of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment that ex­posed the per­son­al in­form­a­tion of some four mil­lion cur­rent and former fed­er­al em­ploy­ees.

But that tac­tic has put Mc­Con­nell un­der siege from Demo­crats, some of whom are gen­er­ally sup­port­ive of the cy­ber­se­cur­ity le­gis­la­tion but ques­tion the mer­its and motives of the ma­jor­ity lead­er’s pro­cess.

(RE­LATED: Mc­Con­nell to Pair Cy­ber­se­cur­ity Meas­ure With De­fense Bill

CISA seeks to ca­jole com­pan­ies in­to in­creas­ing their shar­ing of “cy­ber­threat” data with the gov­ern­ment by of­fer­ing them ex­pan­ded li­ab­il­ity pro­tec­tions, an ar­range­ment the bill’s back­ers say could help mit­ig­ate and po­ten­tially pre­vent dev­ast­at­ing cy­ber­at­tacks. Two sim­il­ar ver­sions of the bill eas­ily passed the House last month with bi­par­tis­an sup­port.

Pri­vacy ad­voc­ates warn that ex­pan­ded pub­lic-private in­form­a­tion shar­ing could en­hance the gov­ern­ment’s sur­veil­lance cap­ab­il­it­ies, par­tic­u­larly at the Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency, which will be able to ac­cess the data in or near “real time” as it mi­grates in­to gov­ern­ment serv­ers. Demo­crat­ic Sens. Patrick Leahy, Ron Wyden, and Al Franken have said they have pro­found re­ser­va­tions about the pri­vacy im­plic­a­tions of the meas­ure and have at­tacked Mc­Con­nell for what they say is an at­tempt to lim­it de­bate.

(RE­LATED: Sen. Pat Leahy De­nounces Alarm­ists Over Latest Massive Cy­ber­at­tack

But even some of the bill’s sup­port­ers are lin­ing up to ex­cor­i­ate Mc­Con­nell’s strategy. Earli­er Wed­nes­day, Sen. Di­anne Fein­stein, the top Demo­crat on the Sen­ate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee who for years has pushed for in­form­a­tion-shar­ing le­gis­la­tion, ac­cused Mc­Con­nell of try­ing to stifle de­bate, not­ing that law­makers on both sides of the is­sue “want an op­por­tun­ity to of­fer rel­ev­ant amend­ments.”

“A num­ber of my col­leagues would like to pro­pose amend­ments, as is their right,” Fein­stein said on the Sen­ate floor. “And I ex­pect I would sup­port some of them and would op­pose some of them. But the Sen­ate should have an op­por­tun­ity to fully con­sider the bill, to re­ceive the in­put of oth­er com­mit­tees with jur­is­dic­tion in this area.”

Fein­stein also sug­ges­ted that Mc­Con­nell’s move could im­per­il bi­par­tis­an sup­port for CISA.

A Mc­Con­nell aide dis­missed the no­tion that con­sid­er­ing CISA as an amend­ment was stifling de­bate.

“Ac­tu­ally, there is plenty of time for de­bate. They can go de­bate now in­stead of a quor­um call. And they can amend, we did not fill the tree,” said Mc­Con­nell spokes­man Don Stew­art in an email. “And let’s not for­get that when Sen. Re­id was ma­jor­ity lead­er, he DID fill the tree on cy­ber, block­ing ALL amend­ments.”

Sen­ate In­tel­li­gence Chair­man Richard Burr filed CISA as a second-de­gree amend­ment to an­oth­er amend­ment late Tues­day, a man­euver that means it will not be open to fur­ther changes dur­ing de­bate.

This story has been up­dated with com­ment from the ma­jor­ity lead­er’s of­fice.

What We're Following See More »
POLIQUIN STILL CHALLENGING RANKED-CHOICE VOTING
Poliquin Loses in Maine's 2nd District
15 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Democrat Jared Golden has defeated Maine Rep. Bruce Poliquin in the nation’s first use of ranked-choice voting for a congressional race, according to state election officials. The Democrat won just over 50 percent of the vote in round one of ranked-choice voting, meaning he’ll be the next congressman from the 2nd District unless Poliquin’s legal challenges to the voting system prevail. A Golden win in the 2nd District, which President Donald Trump carried in 2016, mean Democrats have picked up 35 seats in the House."

Source:
IF SHE AGREES TO RULES REFORMS
Republicans Could Back Pelosi in Speaker Vote
16 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) said he and some other Republicans are committed to backing Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for Speaker if she agrees to enact a package of rule reforms. Reed, co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, said the growing frustration with gridlock, polarization and a top-heavy leadership approach in Congress are the reasons why several members in his party are willing to supply Pelosi with some Speaker votes in exchange for extracting an overhaul of the House rules." The caucus wants to fast-track any legislation with support of two-thirds of members, and require a supermajority to pass any legislation brought up under a closed rule.

Source:
FOUR TWEETS OVER THREE HOURS
Trump Lashes Out at Mueller Investigation
18 hours ago
THE LATEST
COULD MEMBERS PICK THEIR OWN CHAIRS?
House GOP May Change Method for Committee Assignments
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"House Republicans on Thursday will consider changes to their internal conference rules, with several amendments targeting the process for selecting committee leaders. The biggest proposed change comes from Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher, who wants committee members to be able to choose their own chairmen or ranking members," rather than leadership or the steering committee.

Source:
COULD IMPACT RESULTS IN MAINE DISTRICT
Judge to Rule Thursday on Ranked-Choice Voting
1 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login