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NSA Pre-Recess Endgame on the Hill

Lisa Graves,
Legislative Counsel
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September 29, 2006

Many thanks to everyone in the coalition who has been working so hard against the White House-Wilson bill. Last night our bipartisan allies in the House spoke out in defense of the Fourth Amendment with passion and strength.

The majority denied any opportunity to offer the bipartisan substitute as an amendment we supported in order to force the only alternative to the bill to be a partisan motion, the Democratic right to move to recommit the bill. Despite this effort to intimidate both Republicans and Democrats and the inflated rhetoric claiming anyone who objects to the bill doesn’t want to protect the country from terrorism, the motion was very close: 202 in favor and 221 against (with 10 members not voting). Ten Republicans joined 191 Democrats and 1 Independent in voting to restore judicial checks and balances on intelligence wiretapping; only 4 Democrats voted against the motion.

On the final passage vote, Wilson’s bill to allow warrantless surveillance of Americans passed 232 to 191, with 13 Republicans joining 187 Democrats and the man running for Senate from Vermont; 17 Democrats voted with the majority. While this was not as close as the vote on the motion, it was still a strong showing just five weeks before the election.

Please do not be defeated – we are making serious progress in the national dialogue about protecting civil liberties while keeping the country safe. The bill plainly would give a blank check to the president and future presidents. And I know each of you is doing everything possible to make that check bounce in the Senate!

The Senate is in session today debating the fence bill. Both the Senate and House of Representatives are expected to recess late Friday night/early Saturday morning. Please continue your efforts over the next 24-36 hours to prevent the bill from passing the Senate.

Thank you for all your help and hard work!

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