FISA: So, What’s Next?
According to the Senate website, the schedule for this afternoon is as follows (Note: all are in ET):
2:00 p.m.: Convene and begin a period of morning business.
3:00 p.m.: Resume consideration of S.2248, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance bill.
8:30 p.m.: Proceed to the House of Representatives for the president’s State of the Union address.
We are planning to be watching every step of the way, and keeping you all informed as the day progresses.
First up in terms of voting will be the cloture vote that Sen. McConnell moved on Friday, regarding closing debate on S.2248. If the "no" votes take it, then there is a subsequent cloture vote to allow for a 30-day extension of the PAA, as I understand it, so that both the House and Senate can take time to go through the materials on NSA domestic spying that the Bush Administration finally turned over to the House Intel committee late last week. (Piles and piles of paper, which they have been pouring over all weekend, I hear.)
If that fails, then we are potentially back to debate on S.2248 and all of the proposed amendments that various groups have been trying to put forward to improve the bill — or change it in some way, depending on the amendment. And we are again facing the potential of a Dodd filibuster, among other efforts to block wholesale passage of telecom immunity and basket warrants, among other constitutional and legal problems with the bill.
Or Sen. Reid could remove the bill from consideration altogether if the 30-day extension is not agreed to, the PAA would expire on Friday, and we would then go back to the FISA bill as it stood before this whole chain of idiocy began — and we could start fresh with the House RESTORE Act as a base for negotiations potentially. Or any number of other scenarios that can be spun out from there.
Dan Eggen sums up the Bush WH position thusly:
A senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of ongoing negotiations with Congress, said lawmakers "have had six months to not pass a bill — they don’t need 30 more days to not pass a bill."
Say hello to Ed Gillespie, boys and girls, king of the non-substantive swipe — I’d bet money on it. Never mind that he is speaking for an Administration that has stalled, petulantly threatened and tried to bully its way around every accountability moment despite their dismal ratings and lame duck-ish-ness, up to and including demanding immunity for their accomplices in the telecom industry so that no finger ever gets pointed directly at the real culprits in this wholesale lawbreaking: the Bush Administration and their neocon excuse-makers. (See, e.g., the WSJ. Nothing like fudging the facts and the law for your party’s CYA, eh?)
A huge thank you to all of you for all the calls and FAXes. I have heard from a number of sources that Senate offices were getting multiple calls — some were telling me in the thousands — over the last week and a half on this issue. You guys rock. (But keep calling and FAXing, please, we aren’t done yet!)
Whatever happens, we’ll be watching along with you…and trying to liveblog as we move forward. We will no doubt be treated to an interesting day of debate and posturing from the likes of McConnell, Kyl, Hatch, Bond, and Cornyn, who will do their best to obscure the facts in favor of covering Dick Cheney’s ass with their own rhetoric. But I have a feeling that folks like Sens. Dodd and Feingold — who have done superb work on this issue — will be standing up for the rule of law.
Ladies and gentlemen, start yer popcorn…