Senate Just Barely Rejects Plan To Expand FBI Surveillance Powers

from the two-votes dept

Just yesterday we wrote about how the Senate was, somewhat ridiculously, rapidly pushing forward plans on a vote for an amendment to the laws concerning what information the FBI can gather using National Security Letters (NSLs). Despite the fact that the big push for this bill began a few weeks ago, and the fact that it had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the Orlando shooting, cynical Senators including John McCain and Mitch McConnell pointed to the shootings in Orlando as a reason that this expansion of FBI surveillance powers was needed. Of course, the reality is that it wasn't needed, and the law is really there to paper over the fact that the FBI has already been widely abusing its NSL powers to get information it's not allowed to request.

After a vocal debate this morning, the measure (somewhat surprisingly) failed to pass, but by just two votes. It need 60 votes to move forward (it was a vote for "cloture" on debate, which requires 60 votes), and it only received 58. But McConnell already made it clear that the amendment will be reconsidered soon, which means he's likely going to be pushing strongly to get those two remaining votes.

In other words, this particular debate is far from over, and thus it's important to make sure your Senator knows not to support this. You can see the roll call on the votes here to see what your Senators voted. Somewhat surprisingly, neither of my Senators in California voted for it. Feinstein didn't vote or wasn't present and Boxer voted against. I'm guessing that Feinstein would likely vote for it in a revote, given her willingness to support greater surveillance, so it's possible that McConnell really only needs one more vote, unless people can convince some of the "Yea" voters to change their mind.

Filed Under: 4th amendment, doj, fbi, john mccain, mitch mcconnell, national security letters, nsls, politics, warrants


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  1. icon
    Ben (profile), 22 Jun 2016 @ 3:15pm

    Re:

    In Robert's Rules of Order it is called a "vote to reconsider". If he saw that it was not going to pass, he would vote with the winning side, such that within three days (*= standard rules, not sure what the rules of the senate are) he can ask for a "reconsideration" since as a prevailing voter he has reconsidered and would like to re-vote; the vote to reconsider only requires a majority (i.e. not 60) so it will pass, followed by a revote of the original motion (in this case a cloture vote to end discussion); presumably at that point he, and the person he strong-armed will vote yes, the discussion will be closed and the motion can be voted on (and presumably will pass since it had 60 votes to get to that point).

    It can make your brain hurt.

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