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Republicans Force Democrats To Suspend Consideration Of FISA Bill

Democratic leaders in the House were forced to suspend consideration of legislation updating the laws for warrantless wiretapping Wednesday after Republicans threatened to offer a procedural blockade.

Aides to Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) notified Republicans Wednesday evening that the bill, which had been scheduled for a vote that afternoon, would not come to the floor after Republicans advertised their intent to offer a motion that would essentially kill it.

The motion was a simple declaration that nothing in the bill would prevent intelligence officials from conducting surveillance on Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda or "any other terrorist organization" from attacking the United States or its citizens.

The problem is that Republicans wrote the motion in such a way that it would kill the overarching bill if Democrats helped them approve it.

And since most members of Congress would rather not vote for something that could be construed on the campaign trail as a vote to defend bin Laden, al Qaeda or any other terrorist organization, Democratic leaders could not bring the overarching bill to the floor.