FISA Update: Votes Now on Wednesday

Senate leadership announced yesterday that there will be no roll call votes today to accommodate Senators attending the memorial services for Sen. Jesse Helms today. So, although there will be debate on H.R. 6304, the FISA Amendments Act, no vote on amendments or final passage. Votes will begin 11:15 a.m. Wednesday.

We summarized the three amendments up for debate in this post yesterday. Today, the White House issued a fact sheet on the legislation and the amendments with a clear statement: “If Congress were to include any amendment that eliminates or delays liability protection for those that assisted the Government in the aftermath of 9/11, the President would veto this legislation,”

The entire White House document, distributed via e-mail, is here. It includes:

Retroactive Liability Protection Is The Appropriate And Fair Result

Liability protection is a fair and just result and is necessary to ensure the continued assistance of the private sector. The Senate Intelligence Committee already conducted an extensive study of the issue and determined that providers had acted in response to written requests or directives stating that the activities had been authorized by the President and had been determined to be lawful. This Committee, chaired by Sen. Rockefeller (D-WV), carefully studied the issue and found that “without retroactive immunity, the private sector might be unwilling to cooperate with lawful Government requests in the future without unnecessary court involvement and protracted litigation.”

And for the Senate Intelligence Committee’s discussion of immunity, go to the original committee report for S. 2248, here. The bill passed out of the Senate Intelligence Comittee, 13-2; the House bill, with its revised immunity provisions, passed the House 293-129.

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