CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., criticized Senate Republicans on Thursday after they voted to block the Senate from voting on cybersecurity legislation, which he first proposed in 2010.
"Today's political maneuvering by Republican leadership is more than disappointing. It's reckless. We worked hard for more than three years and now, because a handful of Republican senators are afraid of crossing the Chamber of Commerce's beltway lobbyists, we may end up with nothing on this urgent issue," Rockefeller stated in a press release.
The Senate voted, 52-46, to end debate on the bill. But that was eight votes short of what was needed to block a filibuster and vote on the actual legislation.
The cybersecurity bill had bipartisan support, Rockefeller said, but fell victim to efforts by some to add amendments.
Rockefeller specifically cited demands from some senators to add a provision "repealing health care coverage for families across the country and new preventive care offerings as a condition for voting on cyber security. To combine those two issues is a cynical, political ploy."
Rockefeller said he was particularly grateful to colleagues who supported him, including: Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; Thomas Carper, D-Del.; and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Comprehensive cybersecurity regulation is a "top national security priority," Rockefeller said, according to top military and intelligence officials, including Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., led a group of Republican senators who were the bill's strongest opponents, saying the computer security requirements would be a burden on companies. The bill would have set computer standards for operators of the country's major pieces of infrastructure, such as the power grids.
Shortly after Thursday's vote that failed to stop a filibuster, the White House released a statement, arguing "the politics of obstructionism, driven by special interest groups seeking to avoid accountability, prevented Congress from passing legislation to better protect our nation from potentially catastrophic cyberattacks."