Mr. President, I've spoken repeatedly about the rule of law. The rule of law isn't some abstract idea. It's here with us. It's what makes this body run, and it has for more than two centuries. It means that we hear each other out. We do it in the open. And, while the minority gets its voice, gets its right to strenuously object, the majority ultimately rules. Standing for the rule of law anywhere means standing for it everywhere, in our courts and in the United States Senate as well. The circumstances are different, of course, but the heart of the matter is the same. Last evening, I believe, the Republican party forfeited its claim to good faith on this issue. They've left to stake their case on fear, unfortunately...."
So what's next on FISA?
(Senate Democrats), under the leadership of Senator Harry Reid and with the help of Senator Jay Rockefeller (a good friend of the administration earlier in the debate on this bill), refused to let the minority ram through its substitute on Thursday and are finally forcing the Republicans to find 60 votes to kill the debate, prevent the amendments from being considered, and just move on. This Monday at 4:30 EST is do-or-die time -- our first goal must be to urge a 'no' vote on cloture so that meaningful amendments can be considered. It could be the first time in recent history that the Democrats -- who claim to want to protect the Constitution -- stand up to the administration and say no. No more warrantless wiretapping of Americans, no more give-aways to the industries that fill politicians' coffers, no more hiding the unlawful acts of this administration.
If that means the so-called Protect America Act sunsets, so be it. As House Leader Hoyer and Senate Intel Chairman Rockefeller have noted, all current surveillance orders can be extended into 2009 even if the current law expires. The intel community won't be forced to end its current warrantless wiretapping and Congress will have the time to do, well, anything else besides pass this horrible Senate bill, which is really the worst option out there. If no legislation is enacted before the sunset, the law simply reverts to the surveillance statutes in place as of last July -- with the significant addition that plans authorized over the last six months may continue even if they have been authorized without appropriate judicial oversight.
As posted here previously, I make a point of calling Democratic Senators -- particularly in adjoining states like Louisiana and Arkansas in this case -- and kindly asking them to represent me, and the millions of other Texas Democrats who have no US Senate representation:
More than ever it is crucial that you call your senator and urge a no vote on cloture – especially if your senator is one of the twelve - Bayh, Carper, Inouye, Johnson, Landrieu, McCaskill, Mikulski, Nelson (FL), Nelson (NE), Pryor, Salazar - who voted with the administration on Thursday. All we need is to knock a handful of them off the administration's bandwagon and we'll have an opportunity to get this right.