In today’s article, I catalogue some of the problems with the Senate bill which would overhaul FISA — while explaining that the bill absolutely must be passed by the House or our foreign intelligence collection is going to collapse. It would be unconscionable for Democrats to allow that to happen while our nation confronts an enemy hell-bent on reprising 9/11 and while we have 200,000 men and women in uniform relying on the continuing flow of information from our intelligence services.
Well it looks like the unconscionable is about to occur. I am hearing from several sources that the House is planning to recess on Friday without taking up the Senate bill. That would mean the lapse of our surveillance authority at midnight.
McCarthy’s take highlights the partisan particulars of the debate, which is, inded, the unfortunate reality here. Still, it should be noted that the Senate bill passed and the House temporary extension were defeated thanks to Republicans AND Democrats, both.
Much tit for tat right now. Majority Leader Hoyer’s office sends out a page of talking points accusing the White House and Congressional Republicans of politicizing the debate. It’s obviously not intended to persuade, because the document leads with Richard Clarke, now a partisan fighter for the anti-war left.
There has certainly been enough time already.
UPDATE (12:30 p.m.): From The Foundry blog at Heritage:
Campaign contribution data reveal that those opposing protection for telecommunications companies received $1.5 million from the trial lawyers that are seeking to cash in law suits based on possible post-9/11 technical violations of FISA. A bipartisan coalition of Senators passed FISA legislation that protects these cooperating companies. A bipartisan coalition, which includes 21 Blue Dog Democrats, wants to pass similar legislation in the House. Political gamesmanship is no way to protect our country. The House needs to step up to the plate and pass FISA reform so we can defend our country within the rule of law.
UPDATE (1:45 p.m.): President Bush says he will delay his scheduled trip to Africa to sign the electronic surveillance bill into law.
House Republican Leader John Boehner has just called on Republicans to leave the chamber to protest vote on holding Josh Bolten and Harriett Miers in contempt, rather than voting on the FISA legislation.
UPDATE (1:52 p.m.) Majority Leader Steny Hoyer blames Senate Republicans for delays and disputes President Bush’s assertion that the expiration of the Protect America Act will endanger the company. FISA will remain in effect, Hoyer says. “So I tell my friends, we are pursuing the politics of fear, unfounded fear.”
UPDATE (2:02 p.m.): Speaker Pelosi and House Republicans holding competing news conference.
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