Odds are good that legislation to address online threats to the nation’s critical infrastructure assets will finally be released this week, but real action on it won’t take place until March: The Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, chaired by Joe Lieberman (I-CT), has scheduled a hearing on the ‘Cybersecurity Act of 2012’ for Thursday afternoon, February 16.
Next week Congress begins a week-long President’s Day recess, meaning a committee markup (if one occurs) and the initiation of floor consideration wouldn’t take place until at least February 28. Debate over the bill could be lengthy and contentious, though not particularly partisan, due to privacy, national security and internet regulation implications of the bill itself and likely amendments, which include data breach and notification measures. The US Chamber of Commerce raised several outstanding concerns, both procedural and substantive, about the legislation in a recent letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid. Late last week, Reid responded that there have been more than 20 hearings to date and saying the bill would come to the Senate floor, “in the next few weeks” and would undergo a “fair and reasonable” amendment process.