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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  • identicon
    Anonymous Champion, 20 Dec 2017 @ 7:53pm

    and without net neutrality do you trust them

    and without net neutrality do you trust them

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    spodula, 21 Dec 2017 @ 1:41am

    Above his pay grade?

    I am interested in knowing who The REPRESENTATIVE Nunes things is above his pay grade, because it certainly isnt the people...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Dec 2017 @ 2:52am

      Re: Above his pay grade?

      Likewise. The only people I can think of are at NSA, and they're the ones we're hoping get snubbed.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      The Wanderer (profile), 22 Dec 2017 @ 6:33am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Seegras (profile), 21 Dec 2017 @ 2:13am

    Single-subject rule

    I was flabbergasted to learn that the US itself does allow what most of its states and most nations laws doesn't allow: having the subject of laws all over the carpet.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single-subject_rule

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 21 Dec 2017 @ 3:50am

    Refreshingly good to see politicians doing it right. Wyden does it consistently.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    calarkin, 21 Dec 2017 @ 6:08am

    Stand with Rand

    Regardless of your political affiliations, I feel like most people would get behind many of Rand Paul's policy efforts, especially against the NSA, drones, etc.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Dec 2017 @ 10:43am

    Yes ... congress is running out of time
    but not in the way you are talking about

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Dec 2017 @ 3:45pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Dec 2017 @ 2:28am

    Reduced surveillance? And Wyden's involved? Damn, MyNameHere is going to be pissed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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