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Democrats Ponder Splitting FISA Bill, As Busy Week Looms In Senate

Senate Democrats were scrambling to find a way to split a vote on controversial electronic surveillance legislation on Monday afternoon, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) outlined a busy week ahead in the chamber.

Speaking on the floor Monday afternoon, Reid said he expects the Senate to vote this week on housing reform legislation, a massive war supplemental spending bill and an update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Reid also said he hopes to hold votes on several more judicial nominations, as well as updates to the Medicare Act before leaving for the Fourth of July recess.

While the legislative legwork on the war supplemental is largely complete, questions remain on the path forward for the FISA bill, which contains some potential risks for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

Late last week, Obama said he would support a House-passed FISA bill that contains a provision which would more than likely grant immunity to telecommunications companies that participated in the wiretapping program implemented by President Bush after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. 

Reid, who has previously spoken out against granting immunity to the telecomm companies, said Friday he will try and strip out the immunity provision, if possible. That way, lawmakers like Obama could vote against the immunity language and for the rest of the bill, a massive overhaul of the nation’s intelligence laws.
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