The head of the House Intelligence Committee is worried about the fate of legislation to protect the country’s cyber networks.
Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) on Wednesday said he was working with his Senate counterpart, Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), to deal with “political tantrums” that could sink the bill, which has met with stiff opposition from civil liberties organizations.
“We’re trying to wind down those political tantrums, if you will, for holds and other things that are being placed in the Senate,” he said at a forum hosted by The Washington Post.
The Senate bill, called the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), would allow private companies and government agencies to share information about possible hackers, which supporters say is a necessary step to safeguard the vast majority of the country’s computer systems and prevent possible hacks similar to the ones that hit Target and Home Depot in recent months.
But opponents have worried it would allow too much personal information to get handed off to spy agencies like the National Security Agency.
Rogers did not indicate who was placing a hold on the Senate bill.
The House passed its version of the bill last spring, but Edward Snowden’s revelations raised new alarms about the NSA and have turned the Senate fight into a tougher battle.
CISA passed the Intelligence Committee in July on a 12-3 vote, but leaders have yet to indicate whether it will see a floor vote this year.
Time could be running out, Rogers said on Wednesday.
“It is not impossible, but the political challenges of the Senate right now make the hurdles pretty high,” he said.
“My fear in this — and I think Sen. Feinstein shares this fear — is that if we don’t get it done in the lame duck session … is that is all starts over,” Rogers added, noting that both he and the Senate Intelligence Committee’s top Republican, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), are retiring after this year.
If not in the next few months, “this could be years before this gets done,” Rogers said.