Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Government Democrats Privacy Republicans Security Politics Your Rights Online

Senate Cybersecurity Bill Stalled By Ridiculous Amendments 233

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the this-is-why-western-society-collapsed dept.
wiredmikey writes "Despite a recent push by legislators, it remains unclear whether the Senate will manage to vote on the proposed comprehensive cybersecurity legislation (Cybersecurity Act of 2012) before Congress adjourns at the end of the week for its summer recess. Once all the amendments (over 70) have been dealt with, the Senate could decide to vote on the bill immediately, or wait till after the summer recess. As usual, the Democrats and Republicans have been unable to agree on which amendments will be considered, effectively stalling the bill. And most interesting, is that in typical U.S. political fashion, some of the amendments have nothing to with the topic on hand (cybersecurity): ... Sen. Frank Lautenberg has filed a measure to ban high-capacity ammunition clips as part of a gun-reform proposal. And Sen. Mike Lee filed a bill that would ban abortion in Washington, D.C. after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Sen. Michael Bennet and Tom Coburn filed an amendment to expand the Office for Personnel Management's federal government's data center consolidation initiative. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested an amendment to repeal the Affordable Care Act."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Senate Cybersecurity Bill Stalled By Ridiculous Amendments

Comments Filter:
  • by rbanzai (596355) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @12:21PM (#40857249)

    I know this is the way our government works, tacking on all sorts of stupid shit but it still seems absurd.

    • by Zobeid (314469) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @12:22PM (#40857267)

      Those who love sausage and respect the law shouldn't watch either being made.

    • by DJRumpy (1345787) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @12:52PM (#40857671)

      I wish they would change the rules to allow only amendments related to the legislation in question. It would seem such a simple thing would make congress much more efficient. Then again, I seriously doubt that was ever a priority for them.

      • by ganjadude (952775) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @01:01PM (#40857797) Homepage
        And the bill to get that passed would have 100 amendments having nothing to do with outlawing amendments!
        • And the bill to get that passed would have 100 amendments having nothing to do with outlawing amendments!

          LOL. I wish I had mod points to give you. That about made me spew coffee all over my screen. Well done sir! :)

      • by nschubach (922175)

        Or how about no amendments... pass or fail by the bill alone.

        • Amendments are often how compromise is reached. Without amendments, the Constitution would never have passed.
        • by DJRumpy (1345787)

          Amendments in and of themselves aren't inherently evil. If they introduce legislation that has a gap, or isn't clearly defined, an amendment can be used to shore up weaknesses and to address various concerns.

          That said, allow anyone to introduce ANY amendment, related or not, just seems asinine. Limiting the scope only to related amendments makes sense.

          • by nschubach (922175)

            Who's to determine if an amendment is related? I mean, if you are talking about a budget act, one could argue that any amendment could be included because anything takes money. If I submit a bill that states: "Patents relating to software are hereby disallowed" (but of course, in legalese). What's to prevent someone from saying: "Well, Microsoft is involved heavily in software patents... therefore I amend that companies reporting as software entities be permitted a tax break because of this bill." Now,

      • by LandDolphin (1202876) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @01:36PM (#40858327)
        If the Founder Fathers wanted efficiency, they would not have created the federal system with a bicameral legislature. Stupid shit like this slowing down the process is there by design - to protect our rights. If government were efficient, they would just erode our rights faster.
        • by DJRumpy (1345787)

          I disagree. If they knew the basic system was flawed, making it inefficient would only delay any perceived protection, inevitably ending up in the same place eventually while only taking longer to get there. Claiming they designed it as such specifically to protect our rights has no basis in proof. A good example is the filibuster. It was never intended to be used in the manner it is today. It's use today is used to endlessly stall legislation. The founding fathers didn't design that. It was added later. Th

          • Read The Federalists #10.

            To sum it up. James Madison writes about the influence of Factions (aka Parties). He sees these as negative, but unavoidable. Thus, the he suggests a system in which smaller Factions have the ability to slow down and force larger Factions to discuss and debate issues.
            • by DJRumpy (1345787)

              He disagreed with political parties, not with amendments or efficiency. He saw parties as diluting the message (the message getting lost in a larger parties platform). A good example would be the difference between a social conservative and a fiscal conservative. Especially right now, we see social issues burying fiscal issues in the Republican Party, who in turn has trouble focusing on helpful legislation due to intra party factions. They are now ruled by the more fringe elements of their party, and fiscal

      • by Tom (822)

        Agreed completely, however... ...I used to work in a field fairly close. We weren't passing laws, but essentially we were doing regulations. Here's the thing: If you have a rule that says only amendments that are related can be added, the trolls will simply move to discussing you to death on what exactly "related" means. While you cut down on the obvious bullshit, you add a lot of conflict to the non-obvious and for the actual useful - the same guys who file this nonsense amendments all the time will doubt

        • by DJRumpy (1345787)

          A yes/no simple majority vote would be easy enough to decide if an amendment is related. Sometimes a simple solution is also the best one ;) If they want to play politics claiming gun clip laws are related to Cybersecurity, then they could answer to their opponents when they are up for re-election. They could also consider penalties for those that suggest an amendment that is voted 'No' (not related) to prevent such spamming.

          • A yes/no simple majority vote would be easy enough to decide if an amendment is related. Sometimes a simple solution is also the best one ;)

            So, under your system, the Democrats in the Senate can define anything they want to be "related", and the Republicans in the House can do likewise.

            So, how is that different than now?

      • This was one that the Confederate States got right:

        Article I, Section 9(20): Every law or resolution having the force of law, shall relate to but one subject, and that shall be expressed in the title.[17]

        Too bad that one was never incorporated.

    • It's like government by obsessive-compulsive sufferers. "I can't concentrate on this bill, I can only keep my obsessions front and center."

      Government for the morons, by the morons and of the morons.

    • by Jessified (1150003) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @01:09PM (#40857935)

      It's not absurd. If you cyberRTFA you'll see that they are talking about cyberabortions of cyberpregrancies, cybergunreform and cyber-repealing of cyberhealthcare.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bluefoxlucid (723572)

      I solved this problem ages ago, but nobody listens to me. I guess it's a curse: I'm some kind of miraculous oracle, I solve the world's problems on the backs of napkins, and nobody fucking cares. It's what I do.

      Look, maybe if I say it enough somebody will listen. When you make a bill, you add a mission statement. A statement of purpose. It's legally binding. This bill has the purpose of ... improving the robustness of the economy of the United States of America by means of regulating the trading of

    • by Cinder6 (894572)

      Obligatory Simpsons quote:

      Speaker: Then it is unanimous, we are going to approve the bill to evacuate the town of Springfield in the great state of—
      Congressman: Wait a second, I want to tack on a rider to that bill – $30 million of taxpayer money to support the perverted arts.
      Speaker: All in favor of the amended Springfield-slash-pervert bill? [entire Congress boos] Bill defeated. [gavel]
      Kent Brockman: I've said it before and I'll say it again: democracy simply doesn't work.

  • by jbmartin6 (1232050) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @12:24PM (#40857287)
    There's no reason the amendments should be any less ridiculous than the bill itself.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 02, 2012 @12:27PM (#40857343)

    ??? the bill failed a vote on the senate floor minutes ago

    http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-cybersecurity-act-fails-to-pass-in-the-senate-20120802,0,1649471.story

  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Thursday August 02, 2012 @12:28PM (#40857349)

    At this point Congress is in a holding pattern until the election. You'd be lucky to get through a resolution expressing condolences to the Colorado shooting victims.

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @12:29PM (#40857361)
    "Cybersecurity" 101, don't have critical infrastructure facing the internet. Use strong encryption for sensitive files. Deploy security patches promptly. Use the right tool for the job, sometimes that means using a commercial OS, sometimes it means developing a new OS, sometimes it means taking an existing OS (*Nix) and tweaking it.
    • don't have critical infrastructure facing the internet.

      There are other ways to get malware onto a target PC, especially if the target is specific enough

      Use strong encryption for sensitive files.

      Keys can be lost or stolen. I think we've learned the lesson by now and 'strong' encryption means unbreakable for the forseable future, but there was a point where strong encryption was only secure for a decade or two.

      Deploy security patches promptly.

      Doesn't help any of the multitude of zero day exploits in the wild.

      Use the right tool for the job, sometimes that means using a commercial OS, sometimes it means developing a new OS, sometimes it means taking an existing OS (*Nix) and tweaking it.

      Sometimes you just can't afford to in terms of time or budget. Sometimes the available developers have a limited skill, some

      • by s73v3r (963317)

        All of those are excuses, and while one or two might be valid for a specific part, one of the things about security is that you should be doing ALL that stuff, to minimize your risk should one of the other facets fail.

        Especially the budget one. I'm sorry, but good security costs money. And until there are very real penalties for not doing it, many cheapasses will simply choose not to.

    • by s73v3r (963317)

      Unfortunately, there are too many people out there who either don't know any of this stuff, or simply don't care, or find it "too expensive".

    • by timeOday (582209)

      "Cybersecurity" 101, don't have critical infrastructure facing the internet.

      OK, let's start with our most critical information infrastructure. I guess that would be the banking system and the stock market. So, I guess we will just go back to mailing checks around and good old authentication techniques like writing your name on a piece of paper or calling your broker and sounding like yourself.

      Feel better yet?

  • i've said it before and i'll say it again, democracy simply doesn't work.

    • Re:kent brockman: (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Black Parrot (19622) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @12:35PM (#40857441)

      i've said it before and i'll say it again, democracy simply doesn't work.

      It's worse than everything except everything else.

      The best government would be an enlightened despot, but there's no way to me sure your despot stays enlightened. Nor to ensure the succession.

      Nor to get everyone to agree on what 'enlightened' means.

      • So two cheers for Democracy: one because it admits variety and two because it permits criticism. Two cheers are quite enough: there is no occasion to give three.

        — E.M. Forster, "Two Cheers for Democracy"

    • That's not a bug, that's a feature.

    • by spidercoz (947220)
      the only problem with democracy is the people who participate
  • by Antipater (2053064) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @12:31PM (#40857381)
    What would we need to do to make this kind of shit illegal? A law? A constitutional amendment? I don't think it would be too hard to get 2/3 of Americans to agree that any amendment or rider to a bill should be relevant to that bill's stated purpose.
    • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @12:36PM (#40857451)
      It wouldn't matter. The constitution is routinely ignored, there are so many laws on the books that its impossible to be sure that you are following them all.

      Even if they did follow the constitution they'd use political doublespeak to prevent it from working as intended.
    • by Millennium (2451) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @12:38PM (#40857477) Homepage

      The problem is figuring out how to craft a law demanding that. What does it mean to be "relevant" to a bill's stated purpose? For that matter, how does one define the "stated purpose" of a bill?

      Common-sense legislation is a nice idea, but it turns out that common sense is actually quite difficult to describe in a manner suitable for law. That goes double in common-law systems, where precedent becomes a law unto itself and so interpretation becomes extremely important.

      • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @12:43PM (#40857553)

        The problem is figuring out how to craft a law demanding that. What does it mean to be "relevant" to a bill's stated purpose? For that matter, how does one define the "stated purpose" of a bill?

        But the same thing applies to many parts of the existing Constitution. What constitutes a "reasonable search"? What kind of punishments are "cruel and unusual"? And so forth. The answer, in practice, is that the federal courts decide these things. If there was a Constitutional amendment barring irrelevant additions to bills, the deterrent to Congress would presumably be that the addendum could be thrown out by the courts and therefore there would be no point in trying to pass it. Even if the benefit of the doubt was given to the legislature in corner cases, the most blatant abuses like the ones mentioned in this article might be avoided.

      • by Greger47 (516305)

        The problem is figuring out how to craft a law demanding that. What does it mean to be "relevant" to a bill's stated purpose? For that matter, how does one define the "stated purpose" of a bill?

        The obvious answer is, whoever wrote and introduced the bill gets to decide which amendments are relevant.

        If a bad bill is introduced and the submitter stonewalls any amendments to improve it then it'll just get voted down.

        /greger

      • Require Bills to have a Thesis statement. Any amendment that does not fall under the Thesis statement is not relevant.

        Thousands of English Teachers do this with papers every day.
      • by Altrag (195300)

        No the problem would be getting it passed. The people who would be voting on it would be the same people who expressly make use of the current system! The only way you'd get something like that passed is by having a large enough public protest that the politicians are forced to listen whether they like it or not.

        As for defining a stated purpose, sure things are unclear. But that's why congress/senate/etc have discussions and debates. We just add one more aspect to it -- not just "is this good/bad?" but

    • You can't do anything. The alpha sociopaths are in complete control of everything. People like you raging on about the constitution or changing the system are just a giggle to them.

    • What would we need to do to make this kind of shit illegal? A law? A constitutional amendment? I don't think it would be too hard to get 2/3 of Americans to agree that any amendment or rider to a bill should be relevant to that bill's stated purpose.

      At this point we're left with few options, although these [wikipedia.org] devices [wikipedia.org] have classically proven effective at eliminating political corruption.

      now, if only we can find a way to convinced the doped-up masses to actually use them...

      • by s73v3r (963317)

        Those devices also have classically proven effective at removing the other guy's corruption, while increasing the power of your own corruption.

        • Those devices also have classically proven effective at removing the other guy's corruption, while increasing the power of your own corruption.

          Your point, assuming you have one?

          "Let's leave things fucked up, because the people who want to fix it might, eventually, fuck it up too" is not a legitimate rationale for allowing known corruption to exist.

    • by iamgnat (1015755)

      I don't think it would be too hard to get 2/3 of Americans to agree that any amendment or rider to a bill should be relevant to that bill's stated purpose.

      Too bad the general population doesn't make laws then (though there are plenty more cases where it is a damned good thing they don't). In this case the people you are trying to restrict are the ones that are creating such laws. Just how likely do you think it is that they will curb their potential of abuse of the system to suit their own ends?

    • What would we need to do to make this kind of shit illegal? A law?

      Great idea! We can append it to the Senate cybersecurity bill.

    • by s73v3r (963317)

      Really, it would just take an adjustment to the rules of the relevant chamber of Congress. A law would make it a little more concrete, as the House and Senate determine their rules at the seating of the new Congress (or something along that timeline).

    • Yes, it would take a constitutional amendment, likely. However you need 3/4 of the states (as in, their legislatures) to get one through, not 2/3 of the people.

  • by unr3a1 (1264666) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @12:32PM (#40857399)

    This is one of the fundamental reasons why we have the issues we have. Including amendments or clauses that have absolutely nothing to do with the main content of the bill itself should not be allowed. It has historically and currently used to sneak in laws that are not openly discussed with the public in order to pass those laws without public knowledge. This is because they know it is harder to eliminate a law after it has passed than it is to block a law before it passes.

    While arguments could be made that legitimate laws that should be passed would take too long to get passed, this ability is abuses far more frequently than being used for legitimate laws. And for that reason, things like this need to stop.

  • Either Senators are all assholes (probable, either way) and they just strap on whatever they can to fast-track legislation (should be illegal, tbh) or they really don't want this bill to go through but don't want to vote "no". Really? Addition to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act? That's not gonna pass and has absolutely nothing to do with cybersecurity...
  • Shouldn't they be concerning themselves with restricting WoW magic swords and stuff like that?

    I mean, come on folks. Put the stuff about real weapons in a physical security bill.

  • ...wait no, he's not talking about high capacity clips in online video games? Then maybe that amendment should GTFO of that bill! I should run for senate, introduce a law that requires amendments to be directly related to bills, then leave lol.
  • Has anyone ever actually made a high capacity clip?

    I am well aware of high capacity magazine, but I have never seen stripper clips more than 5 rounds, and moon clips are for revolvers.

    • I am well aware of high capacity magazine, but I have never seen stripper clips more than 5 rounds, and moon clips are for revolvers.

      Don't worry. Most other men can't go five rounds with a stripper either. Nobody's that high-capacity.

    • I am not aware of any but it would be nice if they made them so we wouldn't have to see these kinds of posts any more.

    • by artor3 (1344997) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @01:34PM (#40858297)

      In fairness to the Senator, the amendment bans "transfer or possession of large capacity ammunition feeding devices". It's the reporter who doesn't know a clip from a magazine.

      It's actually a pitifully toothless law, as it excludes any extended magazines already in existence in the country. It would take decades to have any effect. Not that it has any chance of passing in the first place.

  • The rules allow them to introduce any kind of irrelevant crap into any bill. There's no filtering process because there's no binary way to assess relevance and politicians apparently can't deal with ambiguity well enough to set up even simple heuristics, approved by vote.

    There's little evidence of intelligence in congress, even on the intelligence committee. After all, Michelle Bachmann is on it.

  • by Rinisari (521266) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @12:43PM (#40857551) Homepage Journal

    This is a great reminder to contact your Representative and ask them to support the latest iteration of the H.R. 3806 One Subject at a Time Act [govtrack.us] in the House and Sen. Paul's version S. 3359 One Subject at a Time Act [govtrack.us] in the Senate. Both bills are endorsed by DownsizeDC, which is one of the originators of the idea [downsizedc.org], according to their site.

    • by s73v3r (963317)

      I love the idea of keeping amendments relevant to the bill at hand. But the question is, who decides the relevance? Do you think Michelle Bachmann would vote that the amendment to repeal the ACA would be irrelevant to this bill? Hardly.

      • The same people that interpret all the rest of the vague, subjective, conflicting law that comes out of congress - the courts. Sen Paul's bill states that any provisions in a bill which are not related to the subject of the bill will be void. Thus if the government attempts to enforce any sections of law introduced by such bills, it will be appealed and potentially struck down by the courts.

        Any self-restraint by the congress is highly desirable, but they are not the final authority.

    • by Guppy06 (410832)

      Sen. Paul's version S. 3359 One Subject at a Time Act

      Would this be the same Senator Paul who insists on tacking abortion riders onto flood insurance bills [thehill.com]?

      I note that even the official summary of the bill has the phrase "and for other purposes" tacked onto it.

      • "Would this be the same Senator Paul who insists on tacking abortion riders onto flood insurance bills?"

        While I don't support his position on abortion, you can hardly blame him for playing by the existing rules, while he is in the process of trying to change them for the better.

        Otherwise, he might as well just quit and go home, and you will never see those rules get better.

    • by Altrag (195300)

      I love how both summaries include "and other purposes." I'm sure its standard language, but its amusing nonetheless on bills intended to prevent tacking "other things" on bills.

  • A much more versatile and generalizable title would be "[% legislative_chamber %] [% legislation_name %] Stalled By Ridiculous Amendments." Used as an HTML template, it would be almost universally applicable around the world.
  • Our Whores for the highest bidder system of government is predictable in that no matter what they do it will be detrimental to the American people.

  • by LodCrappo (705968) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @02:36PM (#40859189) Homepage

    this is why we can't have nice things

The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it. -- E. Hubbard

Working...