Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday night that the chamber will delay a vote on electronic surveillance legislation until after the Fourth of July recess, though the body will vote on a massive war supplemental spending bill before adjourning.
The long-delayed update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was set to clear the chamber this week and head to the president’s desk. However, several Democratic senators continued to have concerns over a provision granting immunity to telecom companies that assisted the government in the warrantless wiretapping program, forcing Reid to delay consideration of the bill for an additional week.
“I’m pleased we were able to delay a vote on FISA until after the July 4th holiday instead of having it jammed through," said Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), who had been leading the effort to oppose the bill along with Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.).
"I hope that over the July 4th holiday, Senators will take a closer look at this deeply flawed legislation and understand how it threatens the civil liberties of the American people. It is possible to defend this country from terrorists while also protecting the rights and freedoms that define our nation,” Feingold added.
Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), the driving force behind the bill in the Senate, did not seem alarmed by the delay.
"This agreement takes us one step closer to the finish line," said Rockefeller. "All sides agree that we must have a legal, effective and appropriate surveillance program, and that this legislation is too important to our national security to not take action... With this agreement, I'm confident that the Senate will pass this critical legislation immediately after returning from the July 4 recess."
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told reporters Thursday that the FISA bill would be brought up for a vote as soon as lawmakers returned from the recess, which could be as early as July 7.