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Legal Commentary: Discourse.net
FISA Senate Order of Battle
By Professor University of Miami School of Law
Here’s what the Senate Leadership has cooked up for FISA. Sen. Reid’s office spins this as “the GOP blinked” as they backed down from their insane demand that no amendments be considered, or at least that they all require 60 votes.
From here, it looks somewhat different: the GOP is graciously allowing a majority vote to prevail on small things, or on things where there isn’t a Democratic majority. Big things that the Democrats could win still take 60 votes — a concession that is achieved by the empty threat of a real GOP filibuster…the political equivalent of suicide.
Meanwhile, Sen. Reid’s office also says that Sen. Dodd was involved in these negotiations and implies that he signed off on it. I’d like to hear that from him. I find the details of this agreement a bit opaque, but if I understand it, there is no opportunity for Sen. Dodd to mount his filibuster if his amendment to remove telecom immunity fails.
Note that the Democrats start from a bad position — one imposed on them unnecessarily by Sen. Reid — since the base bill is the Intelligence committee one not the much preferable Judiciary Committee version, and the rules favor inertia.
Has Senator Dodd caved in here? Or does he think he can find 50 votes? Senator Nelson (FL) now says he will vote for Dodd’s amendment, but I don’t think many others of the dozen DINOs who voted to table the Judiciary version of the bill have announced they are switching.
This would be a good time to call your Senator and ask nicely but firmly that Dodd’s amendment to remove the retroactive immunity for illegal wiretaps be removed from the FISA bill.
(Some people have asked why I focus on this rather than some other, possibly worse, features of the bill that make Richard Nixon seem unambitious. It’s because the others can be undone later. There’s real doubt that this can be.)
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