Voting on Foreign Surveillance: Get To It

By January 23, 2008Briefly Legal, Communications

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has had a tough time scheduling action on S. 2248, legislation to extend and improve the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. A version of the bill came out of the Intelligence Committee on a strong, bipartisan 13-2 vote; the Senate Judiciary committee version broke along partisan lines.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) have thrown up numerous roadblocks to a vote on the Intelligence Committee’s bill, based mostly on exaggerated privacy concerns. Still, given the political heft of the left-wing blogosphere, deep-pocket trial lawyers and fear-mongering civil liberties crowd and other hyphenated special interests, the opposition has proved a political headache for Senator Reid. He couldn’t get a vote scheduled in December and wanted a vote on a one-month extension this week. (New York Times story. Washington Times editorial.)

The law expires on February 1.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has said, no extensions, let’s vote, and apparently that’s now going to happen. The bill is expected to come to the floor today or tomorrow, with a vote targeted for Friday. That would allow the bill to go to the House for passage before the expiration date.

The law expires on February 1. As Senator Bond says, ““To stall legislation needed to help our intelligence community prevent attacks and protect American lives is not only irresponsible, it’s also dangerous.”

NOTE: Vice President Dick Cheney will speak on the FISA legislation at the Heritage Foundation at 11 a.m. You can watch it live at the Heritage’s website.

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