What Fresh Hell Is This?

November 16, 2007

RESTORE ACT Passed In The House

The House passed H.R. 3773 yesterday by a vote of 227-189.

The locals voted along party lines: Altmire and Doyle voted for it, Tim Murphy voted against.

The AP has the story:

The House voted Thursday night to strengthen court oversight of the government's surveillance of terrorist suspects but stopped short of providing legal immunity to telecommunication companies that helped eavesdrop on Americans.

The Democratic bill, approved 227-189, was a rebuke to President Bush, who has promised to veto any legislation that does not shield telecom companies from civil lawsuits. About 40 civil suits have been filed alleging the companies broke wiretapping and privacy lawsuits for monitoring phone calls and e-mails without permission of a secret court created 30 years ago for that purpose.

The House bill would allow unfettered telephone and e-mail surveillance of foreign intelligence targets but would require special authorization if the foreign targets are likely to be in contact with people inside the United States — a provision designed to safeguard Americans' privacy.

The new bill tightens rules on the sharing of identifying information gleaned from electronic surveillance that involves Americans. It provides protections against "reverse targeting" _that is, using unfettered foreign surveillance to secretly monitor Americans. It increases the size of the secret court that oversees intelligence. It also prohibits future presidents from conducting electronic surveillance outside the procedures established by the 30-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

This so-called exclusivity provision would undermine Bush's claim that Congress' approval of the use of military force after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was all the approval he needed to bypass FISA and eavesdrop inside the United States without court approval.

Of course the Republicans, looking to kill a bill they can't defeat, introduced a "Motion to Recommit With Instructions" minutes after the bill was introduced for passage.

Remember the "Motion to Recommit"? The Washington Post has a description here.
The motion to recommit allows the minority a chance to amend a bill on the floor or send it back to committee, effectively killing it. In a legislative body in which the party in power controls nearly everything, it is one of the few tools the minority has to effect change.
And the Republican obstructionists are using the tool far more sneakily than their predecessors:

In the 12 years of Republican control that ended in January, Democrats passed 11 motions to recommit. Republicans have racked up the same number in just five months of this Congress.

Democrats say any comparison is unfair because when Republicans controlled Congress, they directed their members to vote against all Democratic motions to recommit.

Now in the majority and mindful of staying there, Democrats have given no such instruction to their members, allowing them to break with the party if they choose. Many freshmen Democrats from GOP-leaning districts find themselves voting with Republicans as a matter of survival -- a reality Republicans have seized upon.

In any event, the Motion to Recommit was denied by a vote of 194-222. We find the same voting pattern among the locals that we found with the Act itself. Altmire and Doyle voted against the Motion, Tim Murphy voted for it.

Keep in mind that this is just one Act in one House of Congress. Something that's led atrios to point out that:
Current Senate Bill has no retroactive immunity. Just need for it to survive amendments, then get a decent bill out of conference, then Bush's inevitable veto, and then Democrats not caving in to Mr 24%.
We'll keep watching.


Whigsboy said...

Is Altmire finally growing some cojones when it comes to Iraq?

Anonymous said...

Coupla thoughts.

Altmire has been, IMHO, more "careful" than wussy. His district is heavily gerrymandered and his re-election will never be a given. I think he's been smart not to take too many positions which would give his opponents material for the '08 negative campaigning, which we all know is just around the corner. I look for him to become a stronger voice for progressive issues once he wins that election.

To the idea of retroactive protection from lawsuits, I must say this...

How can anyone, on either side of the political spectrum, see this as positive? A lawsuit is just that. It doesn't mean the plaintiff will win...so why is the Pres and his buds in Corporate World so worried about the suits?

We have truly entered a bad place when even the THREAT of a lawsuit must be quashed. Seems downright un-Amurican to me...


Anonymous said...

John K. says: Breaking News: A scandal has broken out at NSA. The monitors fell asleep monitoring the boring life of Shitrock and whigsboy. They just could not handle the frequent pizza orders and calls to the 1-900 numbers. To help keep emloyees awake while monitoring whigsboy's telephone conversations, jolts of coffee will be provided to the monitors.

Schmuck Shitrock said...

You keep getting better and better, John. Not just hilarious, but classy, too.

Whigsboy said...

I KNEW that was you on that call last night, Koward!

Your falsetto needs some work, and who else would say things like:

"You want me to get dirty, Rushie... I mean, baby? I'll get dirty. I'll get lefty loony lib dirty on your ass. Immmpeeaach me. Oh, baby, immmmpeach me now. Waterboarding is for bad boys. Waterboarding is for bad, bad boys..."

That said, at 50 cents a call, plus a free subscription to National Review online, that's a pretty good deal you've got going.

Anonymous said...


I'm guessing what really gave him away was the echo; almost as if he were calling from a men's room stall.

Could you hear foot tapping, too? I'm morbidly curious.

- Shawn

Anonymous said...

John K. says: It must be tough being a liberal. Look at shitrock and that other person in here. You have to constantly be looking under your bed for Govt monitors. And when you go to the public bathroom you have to bring a friend to watch your back. Remember lefties, the same Govt you are paranoid of when it comes to your phones, you want managing your retirement accounts (SS) providing your health care. LOL LOL Like I said way too easy.

Sherry said...

i suppose that means that if your republican government can't manage ss and health care then they certainly shouldn't be trusted to spy on it's citizens
without screwing that up and detaining innocent americans.

just too easy kid.

Lefty said...

Sherry - SS and healthcare have been screwed up for years. It's not a republican/concervative related failure. It's system failure, brought on by greed and a willingness to simply give away the store. The dems want to give things away and repubs want to make a profit doing so.....!

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