Eager to put appropriate cover on their actions so that they don’t jeopardize their reelections, House Democrats are proposing breaking up the Wire-tapping Bill into two pieces: one to provide the authorization to execute the program, and the other to provide protections for communications companies against lawsuits.
From what I’m hearing, it sounds like both bills would pass, but some legislators want the option to vote against one or the other. From the LA Times story:
“The objective would be to pass something that is less controversial,” yet still allow Democrats to register their objections to the immunity provision, said one senior Democratic aide, speaking on condition of anonymity because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and other party leaders have yet to reach a decision on the matter.
The proposal emerged Friday as a possible endgame in the drawn-out congressional debate over how to overhaul laws that govern when and how American spy agencies can intercept international e-mails and phone calls coming into the United States.
Republican officials said they likely would back the proposal to divide the bill into two pieces, as long as there was no delay in taking up the immunity provision. “We would be OK with that as long as the immunity provision [can] become law,” said Michael Steel, spokesman for House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).
Officials from both sides acknowledged that there are probably enough votes in the House to pass the measure protecting telephone companies. But splitting the bill would give Democrats who oppose the immunity provision political cover for voting in favor of the broader legislation.
This is a bunch of stupid, wasteful posturing. I can’t believe we pay these people to just argue day by day because they want to look good to their district instead of just getting the work done, and done right, and done quickly. As the character of John Adams said in the musical 1776: “I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace; that two are called a law firm, and that three or more become a Congress!”
Hat tip to Memeorandum.