New Twists in the FISA Fight

Brian Beutler, Media Consortium

Tomorrow at 10 am, votes on amendments to FISA will continue. When they’re all done with those, there will be a cloture vote. The agreement Dodd made with Senate leadership was such that he’d drop his bid to block any votes on FISA amendments as long as the key amendments were held to a simple-majority threshold. But he still plans to vote against cloture (and rally his colleagues to vote against cloture) if the bill contains the retroactive immunity provision. In an interesting twist, he now has the support of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who chairs the Judiciary committee (also known as the committee that penned the superior, competing legislation that has basically been all but blocked from consideration. This in from Leahy’s leadership office: Tuesday is a critical day in our fight to stand up for American values and preserve our freedoms while protecting our national security. Tomorrow the Senate will vote on amendments to FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the law governing the use of wiretaps and other means to conduct surveillance of foreign threats. Unfortunately, the new FISA bill we’ll be voting on Tuesday still has many problems. I will do everything in my power — including joining my colleague Chris Dodd in a filibuster against this legislation — to fix it. Now I need your help to encourage more of our House and Senate colleagues to stand with us. Leahy has some influence. But Republicans and Jay Rockefeller need 60 ayes to get this bill to the floor for a final vote. Assuming everybody’s on hand tomorrow, this means Dodd, Feingold, and Leahy need to rally 41 people to their side. And that won’t be easy.

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