Last week was a very bad week for the National Security Agency. The disclosures kept coming. The anger of U.S. allies continued to grow. And two powerful members of Congress from the House and Senate Judiciary Committees introduced a bill – the USA FREEDOM Act – to rein in the agency’s spying. The ACLU strongly supports the legislation, which would ban the bulk collection of Americans’ sensitive business records, and is advocating hard for its passage. The bill shouldn’t be confused with the legislation proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein last week that codifies the NSA’s bulk collection authority, which the ACLU opposes.
Oh, and Cory Booker is in the house. Well, technically, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) is in the Senate after being sworn in last week, but you get the idea.
And with the arrival of the ambiguously not gay senator from New Jersey and the endorsement of every one of his fellow Senate Democrats, we’re expecting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to pass the Senate this week with a large bipartisan majority. In a year of historic victories for LGBT people, this one will rank near the top. The ACLU has played a lead role in achieving this big step forward to prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
This week is setting up to be a doozy; we have lots lined up as Washington continues to recover from its post-shutdown hangover.
Monday, November 4th
The Senate will vote on a motion to proceed to begin debate on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) on Monday evening. Debate will continue throughout the week and a vote is expected by the end of the week.
The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board will hold a hearing on NSA spying.
Tuesday, November 5th
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The ACLU’s Ruthie Epstein will participate in an advocates’ call on the immigration bed mandate, a controversial policy that requires Immigration and Customs Enforcement Policy to keep an average of 34,000 detainees per day in its custody.
Legislative Counsel Jennifer Bellamy will speak in support of the Youth PROMISE Act at a briefing sponsored by the United Methodist Church for advocates from the faith community.
Wednesday, November 6th
Federal Prison Oversight
The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing titled “Oversight of the Bureau of Prisons and Cost-Effective Strategies for Reducing Recidivism.”
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Town of Greece vs. Galloway, a case that will determine whether a town council’s practice of opening its meetings with Christian prayers violates the Establishment Clause. The ACLU filed an amicus brief in the case.
Thursday, November 7th
The congressionally mandated “Department of Defense Response Systems to Adult Sexual Assault Crimes Panel” will hold an all-day meeting where military officials and victim advocates will discuss issues surrounding sexual assault in the armed forces.
Friday, November 8th
The National Commission on the Voting Rights Act will hold a field hearing in North Carolina.
The Department of Defense Response Systems to Adult Sexual Assault Crimes Panel will hold an all-day meeting where sexual assault survivors, civilian attorneys, and military officials will discuss issues surrounding sexual assault in the armed forces.
We expect the National Defense Authorization Act to go to the Senate floor the week of November 12 with amendments being considered the following week. In anticipation of floor debate the ACLU and coalition partners are meeting with members on both sides of the aisle to support the more flexible Guantanamo transfer provisions found in the Senate Armed Services Committee bill.
On November 14, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration will hold a public teleconference meeting.
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