On the Senate floor yesterday, Harry Reid issued a challenge.
We have to finish FISA this week. Everyone should be aware of that point. We have to finish it this week. I know there are important trips people want to take. We have the very important economic conference in Davos that Democrats and Republicans alike would like to go to.
I say, unless we finish the bill Thursday -- and we will not be able to get to it until tomorrow night-- unless we finish the bill on Thursday, then we are going to have to continue working this week until we finish this bill. We have to finish this bill. It is not fair to the House to jam them so that they have 1 day to act on this legislation.
If we finish it this week, I have spoken to the Speaker today and they will work to complete this matter next week. It would be to everyone's advantage if we had more time to do this.
I respect what the Republican leader has said, but everyone here should understand all weekend activities have to be put on hold until we finish this bill. Now, it is possible we could finish it fairly quickly. We are going to work from the Intelligence bill, and if amendments are offered that people don't like, I would suggest they move to table those amendments. Because if people think they are going to talk this to death, we are going to be in here all night. This is not something we are going to have a silent filibuster on. If someone wants to filibuster this bill, they are going to do it in the openness of the Senate.
Too bad his target in that warning is his own Democratic Senators, Dodd and Feingold. If he'd have forced a few of those "open" filibusters on the Republicans in the past year, we could be looking at a completely different dynamic in the Senate.
But I just want to take a moment to remind Senator Reid of a letter he sent last month to Director of National Intelligence John McConnell about the intelligence documents being used to prop up the administration's demands for telco amnesty:
...We appreciate that you have provided access to the documents necessary for evaluation of this issue to the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, as each has in turn considered it. As the debate now moves to the full Senate, I believe it is of critical importance that all Senators who will be called upon to vote on this important question have an opportunity to review these key documents themselves so that they may draw their own conclusions. In my view, each sitting Senator has a constitutional right of access to these documents before voting on this matter.
I strongly urge you to make the documents previously provided to the Intelligence and Judiciary Committee regarding retroactive immunity available in a secure location to any Senator who wishes to review them during the floor debate.
Only a very few Senators have had access to this information, information that Reid himself has declared "critical" to Senators making a decision on this vote. Needless to say, there has been no response from DNI McConnell.
We don't want to see a replay of August, where members of Congress voted on legislation that they had barely read, legislation that was used as a cudgel against Democrats and a vote that was taken under duress, spurred by the administration's lie that the Capitol was under immediate harm from a terrorist threat. Senators should not be forced to vote again without access to all of the information they need to make this decision.
Call Harry Reid at 202-224-3542, and remind him that we don't want any more uninformed votes by our Senators. Tell him that this vote should not be held until the administration makes this information available to all Senators.
Update: Reid's staff e-mails to clarify that his challenge to Senators wishing to "talk this to death" was intended for Republicans who had been insisting on 60 vote majority on FISA votes. That is, Reid told the Republicans that if they want 60 vote threshold they will have to essentially filibuster to do so. Should the votes start tomorrow, I hope he holds that line.
Comments are closed on this story.