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Public Statements

Cybersecurity Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, we are again discussing the important topic of cybersecurity--a topic we all agree is of the utmost importance and worthy of our attention. Unfortunately, this is like the movie ``Groundhog Day.'' The majority continues to push the same flawed legislation that failed to garner enough votes for consideration just three months ago.

No one disputes the need for Congress to address cybersecurity.

However, Members do disagree with the notion this problem requires legislation that increases the size of the Federal Government bureaucracy and places new burdens and regulation on businesses.

Enhancing cybersecurity is important to our national security. I support efforts to strengthen our Nation against cyber attacks.

However, I take issue with those who have come to the floor and argued that those who don't support this bill are against strengthening our Nation's cybersecurity.

As I said in August, disagreements over how to address policy matters shouldn't devolve into accusations about a Member's willingness to tackle tough issues.

The debate over cybersecurity legislation has turned from a substantive analysis of the merits into a political blame game as to which side supports defending our Nation more.

If we want to tackle big issues such as cybersecurity, we need to rise above disagreements and work in a constructive manner. Disagreements over policy should be openly and freely debated.

Unfortunately, this isn't how the debate on cybersecurity proceeded. Instead, before a real debate began last August, the majority cut it off.

This was contrary to the majority's promise earlier this year of an open amendment process to address cybersecurity.

Aside from process, I also have significant substantive concerns with the bill. Chief among my concerns with the pending bill is the role played by the Department of Homeland Security. These concerns stem from oversight I have conducted on its implementation of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards, or the CFATS program.

CFATS was the Department's first major foray into regulation of the chemical sector. DHS spent nearly $500 million on the program. Five years later, they have just begun to approve site security plans for the more than 4,000 facilities designated under the rule.

I have continued to conduct oversight on this matter. Despite assurances from DHS that they have fixed all the problems with CFATS, I keep discovering more problems.

On top of this concern, since the last vote in August, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations have released a report criticizing DHS and the fusion centers they operate. The subcommittee report criticized DHS's fusion centers as ``pools of ineptitude, waste, and civil liberties intrusions.''

And that is the evaluation after DHS spent as much as $1.4 billion on this program.

Given these examples, I am baffled why the Senate would take an agency that has proven problems with overseeing critical infrastructure and give them chief responsibility for our country's cybersecurity.

Additionally, I am concerned with provisions that restrict the way information is shared.

The restrictions imposed under title VII of this bill are a step backward from other information-sharing proposals. This includes the bill I have co-sponsored, the SECURE IT bill.

The bill before us places DHS in the role of gatekeeper of cyber threat information. The bill calls for DHS to share the information in ``as close to real time as possible'' with other agencies. However, this will create a bottleneck for information coming into the government.

Further, title VII includes restrictions on what types of information can be shared, limiting the use of it for criminal prosecutions except those that cause imminent harm.

This is exactly the type of restriction on information sharing that the 9/11 Commission warned about.

In fact, the 9/11 Commission said, ``the [wall] resulted in far less information sharing and coordination.'' The Commission further added, ``the removal of the wall that existed before 9/11 between intelligence and law enforcement has opened up new opportunities for cooperative action.''

Why would we even consider legislation that could rebuild these walls that threaten our national security?

We haven't had any real debate on these issues. The lack of a real process in the Senate on this current bill amplifies my substantive concerns.

In fact, this is eerily reminiscent of the debate surrounding ObamaCare.

Here we are once again, in a lame duck session the week before Thanksgiving, tackling a serious problem that hasn't been given the benefit of the Senate's full process.

I don't want cybersecurity legislation to become another ObamaCare. If we are serious about our Nation's security, then shouldn't we treat it as such?

Additionally, the staff of the sponsors of the legislation before us continue behind-the-scenes efforts to negotiate changes to the bill we are being asked to vote on. If the bill sponsors are still negotiating changes, why don't we have the benefit of a full and open amendment process to try and fix it before we vote for cloture? It simply doesn't make sense.

Instead, it appears today's vote is about something other than cybersecurity. It is yet another attempt by the majority to paint the minority as obstructing the work of the Senate. Most likely, this vote will be used simply as fuel for the majority's effort to dismantle the filibuster. So much for tackling cybersecurity without putting politics into the mix.

This isn't the way we are supposed to legislate. The people who elected us expect more.

How many Senators are prepared to vote on something this important, without knowing its impact because we haven't followed regular order? Are we to once again pass a bill so that the American public can then read it and find out what is in it?

These are questions that all Senators should consider. And our citizens should know in advance what we are actually considering.

If we are serious about addressing this problem, then let's deal with it appropriately.

Rushing something through that will impact the country in such a massive way isn't the way we should do business.

It is not good for the country and it is not good for this body.

Thank you. I yield the floor.


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