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By ANTHONY aRUSSO
A bipartisan bill meant to help protect the nation from a cyber attack failed passage by the U.S. Senate last week, much to the dismay of the bill's co-sponsor, Rhode Island Second District Rep. Jim Langevin. The local representative released a lengthy statement detailing his thoughts on this new development.
The bill, known as the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, would establish methods to prevent and deter large-scale cyber attacks against areas of the American infrastructure, including water supplies and the electrical grid. The act was strongly endorsed by military and national security officials.
The Senate voted 52-46 in favor of the bill, falling short of the two-thirds majority needed to advance the bill.
Langevin, in a statement released after the bill's failure, said that despite bipartisan efforts the act was derailed by a group of republican senators led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Langevin is the co-founder of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus and co-chair of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Commission on Cybersecurity.
"Congress has now again failed to address one of the greatest security risks facing the American people," Langevin's statement read. "Just a week after the head of the National Security Agency reported a 17-fold increase in cyber attacks against our most vital and
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valuable industries, it is inexplicable that some of my colleagues still have not gotten the message about the threats to critical infrastructure."
Langevin's statement continues on to read that the most senior and respected American security officials have warned lawmakers on the vulnerability that the nation faces and the major economic and physical damage that could occur if that vulnerability, which is centered around the critical infrastructure networks, is not addressed.
"Opponents of legislation would have us believe that industry will act voluntarily to secure infrastructure, but the facts say otherwise," the congressman wrote. "For years, the owners of our key infrastructures have had the opportunity to act, but far too many have proven unwilling to bear the costs, preferring to take the chance that they won't be the ones that get hit."
Langevin statement focused heavily on national security, which he referred to as legislator's "most fundamental obligation." He also blamed partisan ideology for blocking the bill's advancement. He said that many members of Congress, who have made it clear in the past that national security is a priority, "have seemingly decided that no cost is too great to violate their anti-regulation dogma."
"They prefer to ignore the devastating consequences of a successful cyber attack, putting the profits of a small group of companies ahead of the public's safety." he continued. "Yet, if and when the attack occurs, the unfortunate reality is that it will be the American taxpayer who will be left to deal with the aftermath and foot the bill."