A Democrat-backed version of cybersecurity legislation failed to win enough votes Tuesday to end debate and proceed to a vote, essentially once again killing its chances for passage, at least in the lame duck session.
Earlier in the day, Reid had said "Democrats and Republicans need to work together to address what national security experts have called 'the most serious challenge to our national security since the onset of the nuclear age sixty years ago.'
But the bill failed once again to gain enough Republican votes to meet the 60-vote threshold.
The legislation would have created voluntary cybersecurity standards that the Republicans maintain could too easily morph into government mandates that reduce the flexibility of private industry to respond to cyber threats in real time.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Neb.), in arguing against the bill, said he was concerned with the Department of Homeland Security's roles as cybersecurity gatekeeper, particularly given a report from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations critical of the department. "I'm 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."
President Barack Obama has threatened to mandate creation of those voluntary cybersecurity standards via executive order if the Congress fails to act.
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D- W.Va.) blasted Republicans for blocking the bill, and urged the President to "employ all available executive means" to boost national security. "I hope that my colleagues will reconsider the path we're on," he said in a floor statement. "At some point, if we don't do anything, there will be a major cyber attack and it will do great damage to the United States. After it's over, the American people will ask, just as they asked after 9/11, what could we have done to stop this?