With a 52-46 vote that split between party lines, Republican opposition has kept the “Cybersecurity Act of 2012 ( Senate Bill 3414)” from earning the 60 vote super majority it required for passage.
The Obama administration, along with a variety of intelligence, military and Homeland Security officials, had pushed many of the measures contained in the failed bill as being vital for protection of the nation's “critical infrastructure”—including the electrical grid and water treatment facilities—from network attacks and data theft perpetrated by hackers and enemy nations.
A main issue that divided proponents and opposition was whether the bill represented the start of a voluntary initiative to develop policies for the disclosure and handling of breach reports, or whether it would eventually kick-start a mandatory, Government-controlled, regulatory regime imposing big industry costs for minimal benefit.
With Congress soon to recess for its traditional August recess, there is no indication yet as to the future of the proposed legislation or other similar legislative bills crafted as an alternative to what was introduced by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).
The bill's defeat was hardly surprising, given a last minute flurry of amendments that were, in part, an attempt at compromise over privacy issues, the need for safe harbor provisions and mandatory security standards to be set by the Department of Homeland Security for critical infrastructure companies.
The prospect of passage was also hampered by attempts to tag onto it unrelated bits of partisan pet projects from both parties that included a ban on high-capacity ammo clips, Washington D.C. specific abortion restrictions, and yet another call to repeal “Obamacare” health reforms.