Monday, January 28, 2008

A victory today on FISA

Great work by everyone today ... with the possible exception of the waffling, prevaricating Louisiana Democrat, Mary Landrieu. smintheus has the synopsis:

Well this afternoon we won a second improbable victory against the FISA bill that rewards telecoms for joining George Bush in breaking the law. The Republicans didn't come close to invoking cloture against Sen. Chris Dodd's filibuster. In fact, they couldn't muster even 50 votes. Cloture attracted only 48 votes (to 45 against).

Republicans then blocked a Democratic attempt to move ahead to a vote to add another thirty days to the temporary FISA extension, which is set to expire next week. Democrats wanted to allow the Senate some time to debate the complicated issues surrounding FISA legislation. Republicans, by contrast, did not think it right that a deliberative body should devote any more time to actual deliberation. Instead, they said, they feared that Bush would veto any such extension. It's is as good an excuse as they've ever come up with for doing nothing.

So tomorrow at 2:00 PM EST the Senate will resume debate on the Intelligence Committee's version of the FISA bill -- the one that provides for retroactive immunity for telecoms. And presumably Dodd's filibuster will resume as well.

Tomorrow Democrats in the House may attempt to pass their own version of a thirty-day extension and then pass it on to the Senate. If so, McConnell may be forced to permit a vote on a similar bill.

There are plenty of plaudits to go around today: To Chris Dodd for organizing an effective and critical push back against the Bush administration's further aggrandizement of its nearly monarchical powers; to nearly all Democrats in the Senate for standing foursquare with Dodd (apart from three four who voted with Republicans: Senators Pryor, Ben Nelson (NE), and Landrieu, and Lincoln); to Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama for returning to Washington for the vote; to Sen. Lieberman for staying out of DC while he campaigns for a Republican presidential candidate.

And to voters who made their voices heard in the Capitol. A lot of people were skeptical in December, when activists began organizing this effort to support the Dodd filibuster, that it was possible to budge a cynical Senate back in the direction of upholding the rule of law. Two victories later, those doubts should be at an end.

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