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Dems Dig in for the Long Haul

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March 20, 2008

We’re enjoying a bit of a breather while Congress is in recess this week and next. But that doesn’t mean we’re resting on our laurels-we’ve still got to keep the pressure on the House to stand strong against the GOP’s ridiculous scare tactics and President Bush’s posturing for the phone companies.

Tuesday, Politico reported that concerns over the economy-the top issue among voters right now-and a pending defense authorization bill might take precedent over FISA when Congress returns in April. “It seems highly unlikely Reid would have the 60 votes necessary to even bring the House bill up for debate in the Senate,” the article surmises, adding:

“I don’t know if there is a dire need to get it done tomorrow,” said one Senate Democratic aide. “Obviously we would like to see a resolution on this, but that is really hard to do when the House is voting on legislation that won’t pass the Senate and Republicans won’t even come to the table.”

Arizona Representative Harry Mitchell is also urging House Democrats to hold fast with an editorial in The Arizona Republic. He writes:

[T]he President is insisting that Congress attach a separate provision to the legislation: granting retroactive immunity for those who worked with the administration as it deliberately circumvented the FISA law to launch a sweeping warrantless wiretapping program that even FBI Director Robert Mueller acknowledged violated the privacy rights of millions of Americans. That is nothing more than amnesty.

… I refuse to grant this president – or any president, of any party – the unilateral authority to monitor the phone conversations, e-mail and Internet activity of American citizens without a warrant.

Last week, Senator Jim Webb (D-Va.) sent a letter to the Senate urging them to maintain the privacy provision in the Houes bill. He writes:

[T]he House-passed FISA bill achieves, in my view, a better balance between fighting terrorism while protecting Americans from potential Executive Branch overreach.

Do we detect a hint of remorse for his vote in favor of the Senate bill?

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