This morning, the Senate failed to conclude debate on the cybersecurity bill by a vote of 52 to 46 (60 votes required), likely sounding the death knell for the legislation this year. Five Republicans voted in favor of moving ahead, while five Democrats voted against, but the vote otherwise followed party lines. In other words, proponents failed to overcome a filibuster.
Technically and procedurally, it’s still possible to reconsider and pass a bill by year-end; in fact, the US Chamber of Commerce reportedly expects a deal on an information-sharing measure to be reached in September. Politically and temporally, it’s hard to see that happening: The White House blamed “special interests seeking to avoid accountability” for torpedoing the bill. Tensions on Capitol Hill aren’t likely to fade as the elections draw closer. Time-wise, there just isn’t much left: Congress is scheduled to recess for five weeks beginning tomorrow, leaving only a month of session (give or take) when it returns in September before it leaves town again to campaign for the elections. While a three or four week lame duck session is a virtual certainty, it is already overflowing with pressing tax and budget issues. For cybersecurity legislation in the 112th Congress, the bell appears to be tolling.
We will continue to update you on significant developments regarding this legislation as they occur.