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Both Sides Dig In On FISA Fight

As Congress heads out of town for recess without extending electronic surveillance legislation, both sides began digging on Friday for what could be a long and intense partisan fight over national security.

On Thursday, House Democrats finished up their work for the week without taking up legislation to either extend a temporary electronic surveillance law, the Protect America Acr, or finish an overhaul of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which the Senate passed on Tuesday.

The House passed a FISA overhaul last August; however the measure did not include retroactive immunity for telecomm companies—a provision which was included in the Senate bill.

Democrats have said they will instead conference House and Senate passed versions of the bill—which leaders said could take two to three weeks. However, the House will be in a pro forma session on Friday, keeping open the possibility--however unlikely--- that another extension could be passed.

Republicans insist that letting the temporary law expire will curtail the ability of the initelligence community to monitor terrorists communications, a charge Democrats dismiss as “fear mongering,” arguing that current FISA laws are enough.

On Friday morning, Congressional Republican leaders met with President Bush at the White House to discuss the situation.

"House leaders must understand that the decision they made to block good legislation has made it harder for us to protect you, the American people," said Bush after the meeting.

" We expect them to get a good bill to my desk -- which is the Senate bill -- as soon as possible.
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