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September 21, 2017

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US Senate likely to revisit cyber-security bill

WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hopes to reintroduce cyber-security legislation opposed by business groups once lawmakers return after Tuesday's election, a Senate aide said, adding that a White House executive order might pave the way for a compromise on the bill.

Senator Joe Lieberman, one of the authors of the bill, would consider dropping a provision aimed at shoring up protection of critical infrastructure that had raised concerns among Senate Republicans, if that issue could be addressed in an executive order, Jeffrey Ratner, senior adviser for cybersecurity on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said Wednesday.

Lieberman, who heads the committee, "wants legislation, but he's willing to focus on the rest of this bill, because there are important things there that he believes need to be implemented," Ratner said after a cyber-security event hosted by the Washington Post.

"That is the easiest mechanism but we're open to other things," Ratner said, noting that Lieberman viewed it as critical to move ahead on a measure that would increase information-sharing between intelligence agencies and private companies.

He said final decisions on how to proceed would be made depending on the outcome of the election, but the cyber-security bill was one of the first items Reid wanted to tackle when lawmakers came back to Washington.

The Senate bill floundered in August after just 52 of the 60 votes needed to advance the bill to a final vote were secured. Business groups opposed what they viewed as over-regulation, while privacy groups worried that the measure would open the door to Internet eavesdropping.

But congressional aides and cyber experts say the bill could get some fresh momentum given a spate of cyber-attacks in recent weeks targeted at banks and financial institutions, as well a virus that disabled more than 30,000 computers at Saudi Arabia's state oil company, ARAMCO.

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