Tempers Flare On FISA

Debate on a controversial electronic surveillance measure hasn’t even begun on the House floor, yet tempers have already begin to flare on Thursday morning, with Republicans slamming the bill and the way in which it will be debated.

The House is expected to take up an update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act sometime Thursday afternoon or evening. House Democrats are hoping to pass a bill before the two-week Easter recess to kick-start stalled negotiations with the Senate on the issue.

President Bush wasted little time weighing in on the House, issuing a statement Thursday morning blasting the measure and promising a veto if it were to pass the Senate.

“Members of the House should not be deceived into thinking that voting for this unacceptable legislation would somehow move the process along,” he said.

The bill would not grant retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies that aided the government in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and would include a court approval process for FISA warrants—two measure that have led Republicans to call the bill “dead on arrival.”

The Senate passed its own FISA update last month, which included immunity. Bush has repeatedly called on House Democratic leaders to vote on the Senate bill—a move Democrats have refused.
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