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7/6/2010
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Senate Seeks White House Help On Cybersecurity Bill

In a letter to Obama, key senators have asked for administration support in crafting comprehensive cybersecurity legislation.

The Senate is continuing to push forward with plans to develop comprehensive cybersecurity legislation, with seven key senators last week writing a letter to President Obama seeking White House support in crafting a bill.

The Senate has recently begun ramping up efforts to combine its disparate cybersecurity legislative efforts into a single, comprehensive bill in an effort led by Senate majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., while the public profile of Senate efforts has also increased, sparked by concerns about privacy and the extent of Presidential power over the Internet.

"Executive branch leadership is key to the nation's cybersecurity and we are eager to hear your views on the optimal organizational structure, necessary updates and reforms to legislation and regulations governing communications networks and information systems, and additional authorities needed to facilitate effective government leadership and response to cyber threats and vulnerabilities," the letter said.

The letter's signatories themselves may indicate a bit about Sen. Reid's strategy for getting legislation passed, as the six other senators signing the letter are all chairmen of committees likely to have an interest in any cybersecurity legislation: Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich; Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.; Select Committee on Intelligence chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.; Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass.; and Homeland Security and Government Affairs chairman Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn.

The letter itself give any sense of timing for a comprehensive bill. However, Lieberman and Senate staffers have said that Reid wants a bill passed sometime this year.

While Reid has taken command of the issue in the Senate, the comprehensive strategy in the House of Representatives is less clear. The House has actually passed cybersecurity legislation this session, including some language in a military appropriations bill and a cybersecurity research and development bill, though senior lawmakers on the House Homeland Security Committee have expressed support for a Senate bill recently offered by Lieberman, Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Thomas Carper, D-Del.

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