I’m trying to figure out what happened to FISA today. There was supposed to be a debate and vote today, with some kind of deal with the Democrats (see opencongress.org) to consider amendments. Those amendments the Republicans thought didn’t have a chance even within the Democratic members would be subject to a simple majority vote. Oddly, the amendment that would have done away with telco immunity was on the simple majority list. According to the gossip, the Republicans were convinced the Democrats wouldn’t be able to pull themselves together to vote against telco immunity – or to substitute the government for the telcos as defendants in the various pending lawsuits. I also understand that the substitution bill, Sen. Specter’s idea, isn’t a great idea – it would knock down many of the key claims in the pending Hepting case being so valiantly litigated by EFF. (BTW, the people at EFF aren’t the rich trial lawyers the Republicans say they are.)
In what is probably a common tactic, the Republicans didn’t allow time today to debate the FISA issues, and have talked on and on about minor details of the economic stimulus package. (DailyKos story here.) Sen. Reid is steaming mad. It’s brinksmanship – the Senate will be pushed to the last minute, and will end up approving another terrible bill along the lines of the Protect America Act.
Congress has less than two weeks to figure this out.