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Mr. NELSON of Florida. Mr. President, there is such an important subject that is looming over the country right now that Congress can do something about; that is, the possibility of cyber attack. We have had this discussed by a number of people in very high and responsible positions and the threat is real.
What the threat means to all of us in our everyday lives is that electrical systems could be shut down, water systems could be shut down, the banking system could be shut down, sewer systems could go awry, and we can go on and on. For months we have been stymied from passing anything because of a disagreement in the business community, which is going to be one of the main recipients of a potential cyber attack.
I will choose my words very carefully as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and say this potential attack is real. It is real not only from rogue players but also some state actors, and we need to get this legislation up and going. I am most encouraged to think we are at a position to get agreement; that the chairman and vice chairman of our Intelligence Committee are going to come together in an agreement. We need to pass this--this week--because this is deadly serious.
I refer to a letter that has been made public from the commander of Cyber Command, a four-star general, GEN Keith Alexander. He is also the head of the National Security Agency. He has done a remarkable job. He sent a letter, dated today, to the majority leader imploring the Senate to move.
Whatever disagreements there have been over the concern of the Department of Homeland Security being the interfacing agency can be worked out. The National Security Agency--which almost all of us have enormous confidence in--is going to be directly involved.
It is my hope and I am expressing optimism that we are going to get this legislation out of here and to the House. If they can't pass it before this August recess, at least we can have some items over the August recess start to be informally conferenced to iron out any differences between the House and the Senate.
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