Ed Morrissey outlines the developing arrangement that would allow House passage of FISA reform legislation, complete with telecom immunity. The report he cites:
To break an impasse over legislation overhauling the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, House Democratic leaders are considering the option of taking up a Senate-passed FISA bill in stages, congressional sources said today. Under the plan, the House would vote separately on the first title of the bill, which authorizes surveillance activities, and then on the bill’s second title, which grants retroactive legal immunity to telecommunications companies that aided the Bush administration’s warrantless electronic surveillance activities. The two would be recombined, assuming passage of both titles.
In this way, Democratic leaders believe they can give an out to lawmakers opposed to the retroactive immunity provision. Republican leadership sources said their caucus would back such a plan because not only would it give Democratic leaders the out they need, it would provide a political win for the GOP. It remains to be seen if such a move will placate liberal Democrats who adamantly oppose giving in to the Bush administration on the immunity issue.
More on the legislative arrangement from the Los Angeles Times.
The Sunday Washington Post includes a big-picture review of the surveillance and telecom immunity disputes. (Motley Rice, bigtime trial lawyers known for asbestos and lead paint suits, are clearly motivated by heartfelt civil liberties concerns.)
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