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Veterans Jobs Corps Act of 2012--Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, I rise to respond to the statement of the majority leader--first, to say that I share his sadness and disappointment that he had to file a cloture motion on this Cybersecurity Act, but I totally agree with the decision he has made. I do not think he had any choice.

I think we are facing on the one hand an urgent, real, and growing threat to our security and our prosperity because we are vulnerable; that is, the privately owned cyber infrastructure of our country is vulnerable to attack from foreign enemies, from nonstate actors such as terrorist groups, from organized criminal gangs who are just out to steal billions of dollars over the Internet, and from hackers.

So we are dealing with a real problem that all the nonpolitical security experts from the last administration, the Bush administration, and this one, the Obama administration, say is rising rapidly to being the No. 1 threat to American security. Over the Internet now, because of our vulnerability over cyber space, a foreign enemy can do us more damage than the terrorists did to us on 9/11. It is that stark. So that is one reality.

The other reality is that Senator Collins and I, Senator Rockefeller and Senator Feinstein, have been working literally for years. As Senator Reid said, because of the urgency of the problem, we decided we cannot just fight for 100 percent of what we thought was best to protect our security. We pulled back; we made it not mandatory. We have standards being set for the private sector to defend itself and us better, and we are creating carrots and not sticks to encourage them to opt into those cyber security standards. That is one reality.

The other reality is that in our government--notwithstanding controversy here--all the Departments are working like a team. As General Alexander, the head of Cyber Command at the Department of Defense says, cyber security is a team sport--the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, the FBI, the intelligence community all working together to protect our country. But they do not have the tools they need, and they urgently need this bill.

Yet the other reality is, in the Senate, where once again we are gridlocked, we cannot even get the consent necessary to take up amendments to vote on. Senator Collins and I have said all along: Just get this bill to the floor. Let the Chamber, the 100 Senators, work their will on germane and relevant amendments, and something good will result for the country. So here is the bill on the Senate floor, and yet Members are blocking us from taking up those amendments. And I am afraid the consequence is that they are running out the clock.

A lot of good work done by those of us who have sponsored the pending legislation, in a very constructive, bipartisan group, led by Senator Kyl and Senator Whitehouse--including three additional members of the Democratic Caucus and Republican Caucus--have worked very hard to bridge the gaps. We have come closer together, but we are not going to work this out unless we can vote.

I wish we had not come to this point, but Senator Reid has made the correct and necessary decision, and it will confront the Members of the Senate on Thursday with a decision: Are you going to vote for cloture to at least allow the Chamber to consider all the amendments on this bill that are germane and relevant or are you going to say: No, I will only settle for exactly what I want, and I do not want this bill; therefore, I am going to vote against cloture and run the risk--which all the independent cyber security experts in our Nation tell us we will run if we do not do anything--that we will suffer a major attack or at least we will continue to suffer major cyber theft.

So I am saddened. We have worked very hard on this. But that is not the point. The point is, there is an urgent necessity to pass this legislation. It ought to be nonpartisan. It ought not to be the victim of special interest pleading. It ought to be all of us coming together, as we usually have on national security matters, to put the national security interests of the American people ahead of special interests, to resolve our differences, to settle for less than 100 percent, and to get something done to protect our country or is this going to be another case where the Senate fails to bridge the gaps, fails to be willing to make principled compromises and therefore fails not only to fix a problem but, in this case, to protect our country from a very clear and present danger of cyber attack and cyber theft?

So Thursday will be the day of decision. I hope perhaps meetings can occur tomorrow in which we can reconcile our differences and agree on a method to go forward. If not, every Member of the Senate is going to have to decide whether they want to block action on cyber security legislation or whether they want to go forward and consider the amendments on both sides that have been filed.

I thank the Presiding Officer and yield the floor.

I suggest the absence of a quorum.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.

The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.

Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Udall of Colorado.) Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, it strikes me, as I call you, Mr. President, that I once had the high honor to support a man who shared your name, indeed your father, for President of the United States. So it is nice to be able to call you Mr. President.


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