Nov. 1, 2012 – Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said Wednesday that the White House may issue an executive order following the upcoming election if the Senate does not vote on a cyber-security bill favored by the Obama administration.
Speaking during an online cyber-security summit sponsored by the Washington Post, Napolitano was joined by Jeff Ratner, counsel and senior advisor for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and other cyber-terrorism stakeholders.
Ratner said he shared Napolitano’s view on the issue. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., “wants to bring the cyber-security bill back to the floor, and we have every indication that will happen,” he noted. “But much will depend on the results of Tuesday’s elections.”
In August the Senate was unable to reach the 60 votes necessary to advance cyber legislation to a final vote.
Ratner said he believes that even if President Obama loses his reelection bid, the White House will issue an executive order if the Senate does not move on the bill.
While the Senate has yet to act on a package of reforms for cyber security, reports have intimated for weeks that the White House may issue an executive order to protect vital computer networks. Congress could still act during the lame-duck session.
However, Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, indicated in a letter to President Obama in late September that he did not expect the Senate to act on the legislation. Lieberman urged the president to proceed with issuing an executive order.
NAFCU Vice President of Legislative Affairs Brad Thaler said that whatever the outcome, NAFCU will not change what it has been advocating for. “Bill or no bill, executive order or no executive order, NAFCU will continue to seek legislation that would, among other things, require national standards for data security, impose liability if such standards are not met and require immediate breach notification to financial institutions and their account holders.”