The Senate needs a help desk. In a few hours Thursday, the chamber blew up a serious effort to strengthen America’s cyber defenses—with a nudge from the White House.

The Obama Administration and the Senate’s Democratic leadership immediately pinned the failure of the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 on the other side of the aisle. Four Democrats joined the Republican opposition to ensure it didn’t get 60 votes.

This setback likely punts the issue into next year, and it is especially bitter for Joe Lieberman. The Connecticut Independent wrote the bill and hoped to make it one last of his many contributions to U.S. national security before retiring after the elections. His measure expanded government oversight of private company digital networks.

The headscratcher is why Majority Leader Harry Reid forced a vote he knew he wouldn’t win. Republican John McCain, who sought substantial changes, says he thought he had “an understanding” with Mr. Lieberman and several other Senators to work out a compromise acceptable to Republicans and the House during the August recess.

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