The bill failed because Senate majority leader Harry Reid did not allow amendments, said Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona, who is the author of a competing bill. But others say the business community's concerns about the Lieberman-Collins bill were decisive.
"Frankly, the underlying bill is not supported by the business community for all the right reasons," Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) of Georgia said on the Senate floor. "They're the ones that are going to be called to comply with the mandates and the regulations, and frankly it's just not going to give them the protection they need against cyberattacks."
Democrats say business interests trumped national security.
"Sometimes we need to make decisions that the Chamber of Commerce isn’t happy with," Sen. John Rockefeller (D) of West Virginia said in a statement Friday. "Because it’s not the Chamber’s job to worry about national security. That’s the job of our military. And they have been quite clear about what’s needed."
The Pentagon has been clear about the need for action. The most recent warning came from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. In a speech last month, he said “an aggressor nation or extremist group could use these kinds of cyber tools to gain control of critical switches. They could derail passenger trains, or even more dangerous, derail passenger trains loaded with lethal chemicals. They could contaminate the water supply in major cities, or shut down the power grid across large parts of the country.”