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Cybersecurity Act of 2012--Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, I thank my friend from Kansas. Normally, when you yield the floor to a colleague in the Senate, you are not sure how long they are going to speak. So he not only kept his word to speak for less than 3 minutes, he proved that he continues to have some lingering holdover reflexes from his service in the House of Representatives, where they always speak shorter than we do.


Mr. LIEBERMAN. I thank the Chair.

Mr. President, I rise to support that motion to proceed to S. 3414, which is the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, and I do so with the hope and request that all of our colleagues will vote yes on this motion to proceed so we can begin what I think is a crucial debate about how best to protect our national and economic security in this wired world where threats increasingly--and thefts--come not from land, sea, or sky, but from invisible strings of ones and zeros traveling through cyberspace.

This bill has been a long time in coming to the floor. A lot of work has been done on it. But I must say, I have a sense of confidence, certainly, about the inclination of the overwhelming majority of Members of the Senate to vote to proceed to this matter because I think everyone in the Chamber understands what we are dealing with is not a problem that is speculative or theoretical.

Anybody who has spent any time not even studying the classified materials on this but just reading the newspaper, following the media, knows that America is daily under constant cyber attack and cyber theft. The commander of Cyber Command, GEN Keith Alexander, said recently in a speech that cyber theft represented the largest transfer of wealth in human history.

That is stealing of industrial secrets and moving money from bank accounts. I believe he said it was as if we were having our future stolen from us. It is all happening over cyberspace. Obviously, enemies--both nation states, nonstate actors such as terrorist groups, organized criminal gangs, and just plain hackers--are finding ways to penetrate the cyber systems on which our society depends, the cyber systems that control critical infrastructure: electric grid, transportation system, the whole financial system, the dams that hold back water, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

This bill is not a solution in search of a problem. It is a problem that is real and cries out for the solution this bill would provide. There are some controversial parts of the bill. There has been some spirited debate both in committee and in the public media about it. There is a competing bill introduced by some of our colleagues called SECURE IT.

But I want to report to the Chamber and to the public that there was a significant breakthrough today where the lead cosponsors of our bill, Senators Collins, Rockefeller, Feinstein, Carper, and I met with the lead cosponsors of the other bill, Senators Chambliss, McCain, and Hutchison, along with a group of Senators led by Senator Kyl and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who, along with Senator Coons, Senator Mikulski, Senator Coats, and others who have been working very hard to create common ground because they recognize the urgency of this challenge.

Well, this is good news. We got a motion to proceed, which, in the current schedule, will come up on Friday. I think it would send a message of real encouragement to the public that we can still get together across party lines on matters of urgent national security if we adopted that motion to proceed overwhelmingly, particularly now that we are engaged in dialogue with the leaders of these main bills and people trying to bridge gaps that began to meet today. We will meet again tomorrow morning. So I think we have a process going that can lead us to a very significant national security accomplishment.

I am going to yield at this time to Senator Rockefeller, the chair of the Commerce Committee, whose committee produced a bill of its own. He worked very closely with Senator Collins and me to blend our bills. We did. Senator Feinstein came along with her chairmanship of the Intelligence Committee of the Senate, did some tremendous work on the information-sharing provision, title VII of the bill before us.

I know Senator Rockefeller has another engagement which he has to go to. So I am going to yield to him for his opening statement. Then Senator Collins, who, as always, for all these years, has been just the most steadfast, constructive, sturdy, reliable, creative partner in working on this bill. It gives me confidence that together we will see it to success next week. So I will now yield to the distinguished senior Senator from West Virginia, who is a real expert on this subject and has contributed enormously to the bill that is pending before the Senate now.


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