FISA Vote Begins Shortly; Last-minute Kabuki Expected to Fail
Congress gets around to doing what it should have done weeks months ago. Democrats lost on almost all of their demands, including telecom immunity. Along the way, they got to show how serious they are about national security by…holding a lot of meetings. Well done, Nancy.
Okay, so I couldn’t help the cheap shot at the Speaker. The real FISA action today is over in the Senate, where things should be all wrapped up by 12:30 eastern.
Before final passage, there will be three efforts to either eliminate or weaken the immunity section of the bill. Those efforts will take the form of three amendments offered by Sens. Dodd/Feingold, Specter, and Bingaman. The key amendment is Dodd/Feingold, which simply removes immunity from the bill and would let the lawsuits proceed. Dodd/Feingold requires a simple majority for passage. Specter and Bingaman require 60 votes. All should fail.
Following the three amendment votes, there will be on procedural vote and then final passage. If, as expected, all the amendments fail and the underlying bill passes, it goes directly to the White House for the President’s signature.
Obama is expected to vote for the bill. Here’s the flip-flop:
December 17, 2007: “Senator Obama unequivocally opposes giving retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies and has cosponsored Senator Dodd’s efforts to remove that provision from the FISA bill. Granting such immunity undermines the constitutional protections Americans trust the Congress to protect. Senator Obama supports a filibuster of this bill, and strongly urges others to do the same. It’s not clear whether he can return for the vote, but under the Senate rules, the side trying to end a filibuster must produce 60 votes to cut off debate. Whether he is present for the vote or not, Senator Obama will not be among those voting to end the filibuster.”
June 25, 2008: “My view on FISA has always been that the issue with phone companies per se is not one that overrides security interests of the American people. I do want accountability, and making sure that, as I’ve said before, that somebody is watching the watchers.”
He is expected to vote along with most of his colleagues for cloture and to vote in favor of passing the bill.