The Consortium Report
A project of The Media Consortium

FISA Update

by Brian Beutler, The Media Consortium: Mon., Feb 4, 2008
Filed under: Congressional Oversight

Harry Reid is steaming on the floor of the Senate right now. Why? Because Mitch McConnell is using one of his procedural prerogatives to devote the next 30 post-cloture hours debating the fiscal stimulus package. What does this have to do with FISA? Well, that’s 30 hours that the Senate would otherwise spend debating FISA amendments. And time–specifically, the 15-day extension to the old FISA amendments–is running out. Anything the Senate passes has to be reconciled with the House’s RESTORE Act, then passed again, probably by both houses, then sent to the president for a signature. All of that takes time, and if the Republicans squander the next 30 hours, they’ll be doing so at the price of valuable time–time that had been allotted for debate on many, many important FISA amendments.

McConnell says that the Republicans need the 30 hours to study up on recent changes to the Finance Committee’s stimulus package. But those changes amount to two short pages of amendments, approved by Harry Reid, that were requested by Republicans. The goal here is to ensure that not a single vote to improve FISA actually succeeds.

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