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Senate unlikely to revisit cybersecurity bill before election, Lieberman says

Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn. // Richard Drew/AP

Senate Homeland Security Chairman Joe LiebermanI-Conn., told National Journal on Tuesday there is little chance the Senate will revisit his proposed cybersecurity legislation until after the November election.

Lieberman, a lead sponsor of the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, also said he supports a review by the White House of possible executive actions to boost cybersecurity. The broad cybersecurity bill has White House support but stalled amid partisan sniping and finger-pointing before Congress recessed in August. Republican critics say the bill could create regulations for private computer networks that would be burdensome to businesses.

“Negotiations are going on, but the fact is they haven’t made much progress,” Lieberman said. “Nobody thinks we’re going to take it up in this two-week period. I’m still hopeful we’ll get some agreement to go forward in the lame-duck session.”

Efforts to pass the bill in the final week before the recess broke down after lawmakers failed to agree on a limited number of germane amendments. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said he would revive the bill if supporters and critics could agree on a limited list of amendments or proposed a substitute bill that has wider support. Republicans incurred Reid's wrath after submitting amendments aimed at repealing the health reform law and banning some types of abortion.

“I don’t think there is any expectation that we’re going to get the kind of agreement that Senator Reid has said he wants,” Lieberman said. “I don’t see the negotiations reaching that point in the next two weeks.”

Lieberman said he has been talking with a range of supporters and critics, including Sens. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.,Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga. “So far, no breakthrough. I don’t think anything is going to happen until after the election,” he said.

Lieberman said he’s not giving up on the issue, but the breakdown in Congress appears to be fulfilling his own prediction from June, when he told National Journal that the bill might not survive if not approved during the summer.

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