Senate Democrats

President Bush and Senate Republicans Continue Playing Politics With FISA

President Bush and his allies in Congress are playing politics with America’s national security. While warning that the current FISA law must not lapse, they have objected to any temporary extension to allow the House and Senate to work together to craft a bill that protects America’s national security while protecting our civil liberties. Senate Republicans also slow-walked passage of the bill in an effort to jam the House and force it to rubber stamp the Senate bill. President Bush and his allies in Congress should stop fear-mongering and work with Democrats to pass a bill that gives our intelligence professionals the tools they need and protect the civil liberties of all Americans.

President Bush is playing politics by crying wolf while opposing any extension of current law:

President Bush Said There Was No Excuse for Letting FISA Law Expire. “There is really no excuse for letting this critical legislation expire.” [President Bush, 2/14/04]

  • But President Bush Threatened to Veto Any Extension of FISA Law. “Patchwork extensions of critical national security tools do not give our Intelligence Community the long-term certainty they need to do their jobs and protect our Nation. Nor do they give needed certainty to our private partners, whose assistance is so vital to this enterprise. H.R. 5349 fails to recognize that the threat posed by al Qaeda will no more expire in 24 days than it will in three days when the current extension of the PAA lapses. Accordingly, if H.R. 5349 were presented to the President, he would veto the bill.” [Statement of Administration Policy, 2/13/08]
  • Not a Single House Republican Voted to Extend FISA Law. On February 13, 195 House Republicans voted against passage of a bill to extend the Protect America Act of 2007 (PL 110-55) for 21 days beyond its current expiration date of Feb. 16. The Protect America Act amended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) to expand the authority of the attorney general and the director of National Intelligence to conduct surveillance of suspected foreign terrorists without a court warrant. [HR 5349, House Vote #54, 2/13/08]

Bush Republicans in the Senate are also playing politics by blocking efforts to extend current FISA law:

Senator McConnell Objected to a 30-Day Extension of the Protect America Act:

Senator Reid: I am going to ask consent now that the Senate proceed to the          consideration of S. 2541 which is a 30-day extension of the Foreign Intelligence Act we will deal with; that the bill be read three times and the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table with no intervening action. The reason I ask consent, this bill, expires February 1st. when we pass this bill, the House has to pass their bill and there has to be a conference. I hope we can have this extension so I need not belabor the point, we asked this before we left and I ask again.          

The Presiding Officer: Is there objection?          

Senator McConnell: Reserving the right to object, my good friend the Majority Leader and I have discussed this, there is a significant amount of time left this month to pass this bill in the Senate and a conference may or may not be necessary. Back in August when we did an extension of the FISA bill, the House simply took up the Senate-passed bill and passed it and on to the President for signature. I think the discussion of extension here, particularly when, hopefully, we will turn to this bill in the very near future here in the senate is not timely and, therefore, I object. [Congressional Record, 1/22/08]

Senator McConnell Again Opposed Extending the Protect America Act:

Senator Reid: Mr. President, for purposes of making the record clear, I say to my distinguished counterpart, I ask consent that the Judiciary Committee be discharged from further consideration of S. 2541 and that — which is a 30-day extension of FISA and the Senate proceed to its consideration and the bill be considered third time, passed, the motion to reconsider be considered laid on the table.          

The Presiding Officer: Is there objection?

Senator McConnell: I object. [Congressional Record, 1/24/08]

Senator McConnell Objected to Passing an Extension of Current Protect America Act:

Senator Reid: As indicated earlier today, I would ask consent to extend the time on the legislation. I am a so, the bill that’s– I’m sorry, the law that’s now in effect. I want to extend that 15 days to see if we can work out something with the House. So I now ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the consideration of calendar 571, S. 2615, the bill be read a third time, passed, the motion to reconsider be laid on the table with no intervening action or debate.

Senator McConnell: Madam President?

The Presiding Officer: The Republican Leader.

Senator McConnell: Reserving the right to object… So I – for the moment, Madam President, I object. [Congressional Record, 2/12/08]

Bush Republicans in the Senate have also slow-walked passage of senate bill:

Senator Kyl Blocked Democratic Effort to Resume Consideration of FISA Legislation:

Senator Durbin. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that following morning business Tuesday, February 5, the Senate resume the FISA legislation, then proceed to a vote in relation to the four amendments that were debated today, with 2 minutes between each vote equally divided, and that on the disposition of those amendments, the Senate continue to consider amendments in order to the FISA legislation and that all time consumed during that debate count postcloture.

The Presiding Officer: Is there objection?

Senator Kyl: Mr. President, for the reasons I expressed with the majority leader a moment ago in our colloquy, I must object at this time. [Congressional Record, 2/4/08]

Senator McConnell Objected To Resuming Consideration of FISA Legislation: 

Senator Reid: Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate now resume the FISA legislation and debate all remaining amendments in order; that any votes in relation to these amendments occur at a time to be determined by me, after consulting with the Republican leader; that all time consumed during this debate count postcloture to this matter we are on now dealing with the House stimulus package.

The Presiding Officer: Is there objection?

Senator McConnell: Mr. President, reserving the right to object… For the moment, I object. [Congressional Record, 2/5/08]

Bush Republicans in the Senate objected to passing the House passed FISA bill:

Senator McConnell Objected to Passing the House-Passed FISA Bill:

Senator Reid: Mr. President, I am now going to ask unanimous consent to pass the House bill, which was passed by the House last November. I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of Calendar No. 517, H.R. 3773, which is the House-passed FISA bill; that the bill be read three times, passed, and the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table.

The Presiding Officer: Is there objection?

Senator McConnell: Mr. President, I object. [Congressional Record, 1/24/08]

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