A group of six Senate Republicans has called on President Obama to not issue an executive order on cybersecurity involving U.S. government and national critical infrastructure, such as natural gas and electric transmission facilities, arguing that the legislative process is a better way to enhance cybersecurity (see Daily GPI, Sept. 13).

The Obama administration last month signaled that it was preparing an executive order to protect critical infrastructure after Republicans blocked The Cybersecurity Act of 2012, which had the support of the White House and Senate Democrats (see Daily GPI, July 23). Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said at a recent congressional hearing that the executive order was “close to completion,” according to The Hill newspaper.

A number of Senate Democrats and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), the sponsor of the blocked cybersecurity bill, have called on the president to issue an executive order.

“While the Senate has yet to reach an agreement on the best way to enhance cybersecurity, we firmly agree on the need to maintain congressional prerogative when dealing with broad and challenging issues like cybersecurity,” wrote the coalition, which was led by Sen. John McCain of Arizona, in a letter to the president.

“The gravity of this threat requires a genuine bipartisan effort to advance legislation, not a selective and unilateral executive order, which simply cannot provide the incentives to encourage private sector participation and requisite information sharing to address evolving threats,” it said.

“Rather than build confidence and unity among key stakeholders, an executive order will solidify the present divide. Only the legislative process can create the durable and collaborative public-private partnership we need to enhance cybersecurity. We remain committed to this legislative process and urge you to work with Congress rather than act unilaterally through an executive order.”

Other signatories to the letter were Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, Dan Coats of Indiana, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Jon Kyl of Arizona and Roy Blunt of Missouri.

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