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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Senate and White House Come to Agreement on FISA

After yesterdays debacle in Congress where the Democrats tried to play fast and loose by cutting off debate on FISA, allowing no amendments to be offered, didn't even let the Republicans see a copy until 24 hrs before the vote, then complained when the Republicans used their motion to recommit, the Democrats in a fit of pique pulled the whole bill because it was going to pass.

The wording of that was:

Nothing in this Act [H.R. 3773] or the amendments made by this Act shall be construed to prohibit the intelligence community (as defined in section 3(4) of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 401a(4))) from conducting surveillance needed to prevent Osama Bin Laden, Al Qaeda, or any other foreign terrorist organization designated under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1189) from attacking the United States or any United States person.

As Jeff Emanuel from Red State said:

House Democrats were unable to whip enough votes to get their way. Today, they were against a simple vote on a Republican proposal to protect America's intelligence agencies ability to fight Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. That's it - they were against that and fought desperately today to kill it.

When they failed, they pulled the entire FISA bill.

Last night I saw the first reports of the Senate having to step up and act in a manner that Congress showed they could not do yesterday... responsibly.

From todays Wapo:

Senate Democrats and Republicans reached agreement with the Bush administration yesterday on the terms of new legislation to control the federal government's domestic surveillance program, which includes a highly controversial grant of legal immunity to telecommunications companies that have assisted the program, according to congressional sources.

Disclosure of the deal followed a decision by House Democratic leaders to pull a competing version of the measure from the floor because they lacked the votes to prevail over Republican opponents and GOP parliamentary maneuvers.

The collapse marked the first time since Democrats took control of the chamber that a major bill was withdrawn from consideration before a scheduled vote. It was a victory for President Bush, whose aides lobbied heavily against the Democrats' bill, and an embarrassment for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who had pushed for the measure's passage.
Nancy Pelosi also pushed for the Armenian genocide bill despite the fact that it would have endagered our Nation Security, alienated an ally, Turkey, and put our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan in further danger, just to have her own party withdraw their support from the bill, for those exact reasons I named above.

Nancy Pelosi will back anything that the President is against, for no other reason than politics, irregardless of whether it is good for the country or not. She has shown this time and time again and it is the reason she continues to be embarrassed in this way.

The Senate, doing what the House could not do, managed to get the White House to compromise on certain points and the Senate, in return, compromised on certain terms, which is the whole point of legislating.... compromise so that the houses can pass it and the president will sign it.

The draft Senate bill has the support of the intelligence committee's chairman, John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), and Bush's director of national intelligence, Mike McConnell. It will include full immunity for those companies that can demonstrate to a court that they acted pursuant to a legal directive in helping the government with surveillance in the United States.

Such a demonstration, which the bill says could be made in secret, would wipe out a series of pending lawsuits alleging violations of privacy rights by telecommunications companies that provided telephone records, summaries of e-mail traffic and other information to the government after Sept. 11, 2001, without receiving court warrants. Bush had repeatedly threatened to veto any legislation that lacked this provision.

Senate Democrats successfully pressed for a requirement that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court review the government's procedures for deciding who is to be the subject of warrantless surveillance. They also insisted that the legislation be renewed in six years, Democratic congressional officials said. The Bush administration had sought less stringent oversight by the court and wanted the law to be permanent.

I continue to hear the Democrats in the house claim a record number of roll call votes, which means exactly nothing if those bills cannot be signed into law. They may be conning their far left base, but that is it, because everyone else knows that "legislating" means "enacting laws", not taking roll call votes.

From the NYT, Representative Heather Wilson states the bottom line that everyone should be worried about instead of the political games that are being played in the house.

Indeed, Republican leaders immediately praised their ability to block the N.S.A. measure as a sign of the Democrats’ weakness on that issue. Representative Heather A. Wilson, Republican of New Mexico, said Speaker Nancy Pelosi “underestimated the intelligence of the American people and the bipartisan majority in the Congress to understand what matters most: preventing another terrorist attack.

The left is up in arms about the Senate "cave in", as it is being called, completely neglecting or simply deliberately ignoring that the Senate was not the only ones doing the compromising.. the White House compromised too.

That is how adults come to agreements.

The children on the other side of the aisle believe that getting nothing done is preferable to compromising and actually getting some legislature on the books and enacting those laws.