In the wake of the Senate's failure to pass cybersecurity legislation last week, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has asked the President to issue an executive order protecting the electric grid from cyber attacks.
The primarily Democrat-backed Cybersecurity Act of 2012, which would have established cybersecurity standards for critical infrastructure like the power system, failed to overcome Republican opponents arguing the bill was too regulatory and provided industry with insufficient flexibility to respond to threats.
In a letter Wednesday to President Obama, Markey said it was "unconscionable" that Congress had failed to act on what should be a nonpartisan issue.
"I'm calling on President Obama to do by Executive Order what Congressional Republicans refuse to do through legislation: protect our nation from the 21st century cyber-armies preparing to wage war on our banking, health care, and defense systems by knocking out America's electricity grid," said Markey in statement.
Evoking, without actually citing, NBC's upcoming sci fi drama, Revolution, Markey painted a picture in which "every single piece of technology including computers, automobiles, and telephones sits idle after being sapped of power," adding that the scenario "may sound like the fall season's newest television show."
Republicans and Democrats are in agreement on the threat of cyber attacks, but have failed to come to a compromise on how to combat it. Republicans blocked a vote on the bill, which could potentially return in modified form in September.
Markey is also unhappy with in action on an electric-grid targeted bill, The GRID Act, which made it to a unanimous House vote in the last Congress but has failed to gain traction, which Markey attributes to successful utility sector lobbying.