Congress Backs Down From Terrible Surveillance Bill; Running Out Of Time

from the tick-tick-tick dept

Just this morning we wrote about a last minute plan by surveillance hawks in Congress to rush through a really bad bill to extend Section 702, which enables widespread domestic surveillance by the NSA. We recommended letting your elected officials know what a bad bill it was (leading at least one of our commenters to mock us, saying contacting your elected officials is useless). Turns out: it worked (for now). The bill has been taken off the table and won’t be voted on today. Senators Rand Paul and Ron Wyden had promised to filibuster such a bill on the Senate side to stop it, and it appears that widespread criticism caused the House to kill the bill for now.

Of course, Congress is now running out of time if it wants to extend the program. It technically expires at the end of the year (though large parts of the program can continue beyond that for at least some period of time). Devin Nunes, who was the main sponsor of the bill, appears frustrated, as he should for pushing so hard on such a bad bill:

But by midafternoon Wednesday, Nunes told reporters that the reauthorization effort was dead ?for now? and that decisions about how to proceed were being made ?above my pay grade.? The House Rules Committee also canceled plans to review the proposed legislation Wednesday afternoon.

It’s still possible that Congress may try to shove a 702 extension into the “must-pass” spending bill next week — though a whole bunch of folks in Congress have warned leadership that they will not accept this. Of course, we’ve gone through things kind of like this before. If you don’t recall, the other controversial program, Section 215, expired before Congress was able to agree on a reform package, and that helped get Congress to finally agree to significant reform to the program after a few weeks of it technically no longer existing. A more likely solution would be a short term (30 or 60 day?) renewal, forcing the debate into January.

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Comments on “Congress Backs Down From Terrible Surveillance Bill; Running Out Of Time”

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The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: Above his pay grade?

Senior members of the House, and other elected officials who are similarly above him in the hierarchy – the Speaker, the majority whip, (other) committee chairs, et cetera.

Not all elected members of Congress are equal within the ranks of Congress, after all; there’s rankings and authority within those ranks, both formal and informal.

Anonymous Coward says:

I wasn’t mocking you, it is genuinely useless to contact one’s representative about not doing something that representative wants to do in the first place. The odds of changing their mind are slim to none, and you know this. You also know they will simply tuck into some other bill and pass it regardless (which you basically admit), again, because they want it in the first place.

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