Feingold FISA flip puts pressure on Obama

posted at 8:30 am on June 25, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

A day after saying he wouldn’t filibuster the FISA compromise passed in the House, Russ Feingold reversed himself and agreed to join Chris Dodd in blocking an end to debate on the bill in the Senate.  On Monday, Feingold had assured the New America Foundation that he would speak out against the bill and its telecom-immunity provisions, but that he would stop short of an attempt to block the bill:

Feingold said he and other Senate opponents won’t try to stop the vote, but they “won’t allow it to pass quickly.”

Instead, Feingold, D-Wis., told an audience at the New America Foundation that he plans to highlight the bill’s flaws in floor speeches. There may be several procedural votes before final passage, he added. Feingold said he and Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., met with Senate leader Harry Reid last week to discuss their objections.

Yesterday, he and Dodd issued their reversal after hearing howls of protest from the hard-Left base:

This is a deeply flawed bill, which does nothing more than offer retroactive immunity by another name. We strongly urge our colleagues to reject this so-called ‘compromise’ legislation and oppose any efforts to consider this bill in its current form. We will oppose efforts to end debate on this bill as long as it provides retroactive immunity for the telecommunications companies that may have participated in the President’s warrantless wiretapping program, and as long as it fails to protect the privacy of law-abiding Americans.

This doesn’t come as a huge shock, as both Senators led a similar effort earlier this year on the Senate’s own compromise bill.  That passed with 68 votes, and its telecom immunity provisions were significantly more generous than the House bill now under consideration in its place.  The original Senate version didn’t have any court oversight in the granting of immunity, while the House bill requires telecoms to get a finding in district court that they meet the conditions set out for immunity.  Feingold has called this a slam-dunk for telecoms, but 68 Senators didn’t even need that to support the last FISA bill.

Feingold’s reversal puts a great deal more pressure on Barack Obama.  He initially supported the compromise, reversing the position he took in February, and then tried to pretend that telecom immunity could be separated from the compromise.  On Monday, MoveOn demanded that Obama keep his promise to join Dodd and Feingold in filibustering any FISA bill with telecom immunity.  Feingold’s reluctance to filibuster the bill had let Obama off the hook, but now the question has been dropped into his lap.

Does Obama join in a filibuster against a bill that he supports?  That might be a first for the Senate.  It would be a double-reversal reminiscent of Hillary Clinton’s rapid-fire flip-flop on drivers licenses for illegal aliens in New York.  If he does not join in the filibuster, he risks alienating a big chunk of the base that got him through the primaries against the Clintons — and his nomination isn’t entirely secured, as the superdelegates that put him over the top can change their minds until the first ballot at the convention.  Will the Left press for that if Obama votes in favor of the FISA compromise?

Expect a Profiles in Courage moment when the votes come up for the FISA bill — and expect to see Obama campaigning in some town hundreds of miles from DC.


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Expect a Profiles in Courage moment when the votes come up for the FISA bill — and expect to see Obama campaigning in some town hundreds of miles from DC.

When Obama is president, expect the White House phone to be busy.

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on June 25, 2008 at 8:35 AM

This is not the FISA Bill I knew.

Mr. Bingley on June 25, 2008 at 8:38 AM

Obama’s under pressure to flip his flop?

MarkTheGreat on June 25, 2008 at 8:39 AM

Maybe he’s going to hold out for immunity for Michelle’s children?

MarkTheGreat on June 25, 2008 at 8:40 AM

FISA is one of those bills that is veeeerrrry complicated. It has some good parts, we have got to keep the enemy under scrutiny…but the bad parts, innocent people being violated by the government, we can’t have that. I support the spirit of the bill, but not the actual bill and how it is going to be used by this administration.
I will tell you the truth, when I supported this bill I never fully understood how devious, how mistrusting, how much in bed this administration is with the telecom industries.
Being on this campaign has shown me, taught me how important it is to keep in touch with the people. And sometimes you just have to back away from what you are supporting, because of the mis-use under misguided leadership.
I can not support a bill that will be so mis-used, a bill that in some form is important for our safety, but in the wrong hands can be so detrimental.
I am not against the bill, I am against the administration that will mis-use this bill, and allow their cronies impunity for damage done to this country…I won’t have that, and if someone is saying I am flip-floping, then let them, our national security and the trust of the government is more important than some pundits comments….end of Obama’s speech…

right2bright on June 25, 2008 at 8:44 AM

It would be a double-reversal reminiscent of Hillary Clinton’s rapid-fire flip-flop on drivers licenses for illegal aliens in New York.

I’ll do you one better. Sen. Brownback changing his vote on Immigration Reform in 30 minutes after he saw it going south.

Lehosh on June 25, 2008 at 8:51 AM

Is there room under the bus for MoveOn.org?

If not, where can we contribute to the purchase of another, bigger, bus with circular saws instead of wheels?

NoDonkey on June 25, 2008 at 8:52 AM

No, no, no, this is a SMEAR! The messiah has been duped again by those rascally, racist Republican thugs.
Yes We Can…never accept responsibility.
Yes we can…HOPE to be absent for the Senate vote.

el Vaquero on June 25, 2008 at 9:04 AM

Sanctimonia quod cassus vestitus, baby.Biggest boost to Latin (or EngLatinish, as it were) in 2000 years.

:)

Bob's Kid on June 25, 2008 at 9:06 AM

I will tell you the truth, when I supported this bill I never fully understood how devious, how mistrusting, how much in bed this administration is with the telecom industries.

right2bright on June 25, 2008 at 8:44 AM

Why don’t you tell us what your gripe is r2b? Is it economic or do you think that the telecoms should be punished for protecting our national security?

Buy Danish on June 25, 2008 at 9:07 AM

It’s time to vote “present”, Barack.

drjohn on June 25, 2008 at 9:11 AM

Buy Danish on June 25, 2008 at 9:07 AM

gotcha

JiangxiDad on June 25, 2008 at 9:13 AM

This is not the FISA Bill I knew.

Mr. Bingley on June 25, 2008 at 8:38 AM

LOL

The funniest part is he will probably say something along those lines. “After reading the bill I cannot support it, and I was forced to skip the vote, scheduling you understand (in case I need to change my position again after labor day)”

John McCain should hold a press conference when he votes for FISA.

Theworldisnotenough on June 25, 2008 at 9:15 AM

This is not the FISA Bill I knew.

Mr. Bingley on June 25, 2008 at 8:38 AM

Bing, right out of the box. You are sharp as a tack this morning!

Jaibones on June 25, 2008 at 9:16 AM

…end of Obama’s speech…

right2bright on June 25, 2008 at 8:44 AM

Why don’t you tell us what your gripe is r2b?

Buy Danish on June 25, 2008 at 9:07 AM

Sarcasm alert! Sarcasm alert!

Jaibones on June 25, 2008 at 9:21 AM

Sarcasm alert! Sarcasm alert!

Jaibones on June 25, 2008 at 9:21 AM

Thanks! It would help if those “words” were put in italics.

So, good job r2b, that is probably very close to what Obama will say.

Buy Danish on June 25, 2008 at 9:30 AM

Obama doesn’t want to be caught on video speaking for long periods of time without a script, quite frankly. That’s the reality.

Seixon on June 25, 2008 at 9:50 AM

I can only guess that Harry will put this vote off for about 5 months.

yakwill83 on June 25, 2008 at 9:54 AM

The FISA bill is a great litmus test.

Do you support 1) The Security of America or 2) More Free Money for Trial Lawyers at America’s expense.

No brainer to a patriot.

JayHaw Phrenzie on June 25, 2008 at 10:08 AM

It looks our Congress is being controlled by MoveOn and Daily Kos.

SoulGlo on June 25, 2008 at 11:07 AM

This isn’t the FISA bill he knew.

irishspy on June 25, 2008 at 11:07 AM

It looks like our Congress is being controlled by MoveOn and Daily Kos.

SoulGlo on June 25, 2008 at 11:07 AM

It looks like our Congress is being controlled by MoveOn and Daily Kos.

I will believe that as soon as the Democrat Congress presses to drop the age of consent to 5.

After all, who are they to judge? Or legislate?

NoDonkey on June 25, 2008 at 11:28 AM

That’s a full flip-flop. Apparently, Feingold didn’t remember what happened to Tom Daschle after the voters of South Dakota finally figured out that he said one thing west of the Mississippi and did the exact opposite east of it.

Thanks for the catch; I don’t think anybody in my neck of the woods caught wind of it yet. Time to correct that oversight.

steveegg on June 25, 2008 at 11:40 AM

I’m surprised that HRC hasn’t stepped up to block FISA. Clearing her debt would be simple if the netroots were singing her praises. It would help her cause if she does want the VP slot, and it would stick a thumb in Obama’s eye too. Unless she is planning a Clinton ex Machina moment, she should already be leading the charge on this one.

rw on June 25, 2008 at 12:15 PM

This is another case of the tyranny of a minority (loony far left moonbat nutroots) over the majority (not only the spineless Democrat politicians, but the rest of us who value the safety and security of our country and realize that suing telecoms who honestly believed they were complying legally with duly empowered government agencies will only hurt all of us by driving the cost of doing business up and further restricting entrepreneurism).

Wildcatter1980 on June 25, 2008 at 12:21 PM

The problem here is this stuff is inside baseball, and the only people who could turn it into a national story (the Obama-infatuated press corps) have zero interest in doing so. Its Summertime, and no one in that part of the electorate likely to decide the race is a) paying attention, b) aware of what this issue is or means, or c) looking to hold it against Obama in November even if they DID understand it.

Its great for us political junkies to hash over this stuff but the fact is 80% of voters are tuned out right now and wont be tuning back in until after Labor Day.

Additionally, I have to say again, that according to the two dozen or more Obamans that I know personally, none of them care one bit about anything that might stand in the way of the Only Man Who Can Save America. That includes FISA, which most Obamans probably think is a shoe company.

Whatever Obama does or does not do on FISA in the coming days or weeks will prolly have zero effect on the election. It sucks, coz its another reason not to vote for the Rookie. But those inclined to vote for Obama wont be turned away by this and those not disposed to vote for Obama are in their motorhomes right now pulling into campsites at Yosemite and Yellowstone.

Mike D. on June 25, 2008 at 1:15 PM

right:

The telecoms are not in bed with this administration. They did what the government {and that includes the Congress} asked them to do early on. And when this administration is gone the surveillance of terrorists will go on. Or it should. It is not about Bush or his administration. Or it shouldn’t be anyway.

Terrye on June 25, 2008 at 3:15 PM

Mike:

I am not in a motorhome.

Terrye on June 25, 2008 at 3:16 PM

Thanks! It would help if those “words” were put in italics.

So, good job r2b, that is probably very close to what Obama will say.

Buy Danish on June 25, 2008 at 9:30 AM

Yeah, I should have but I was on a roll…by blood was boiling by time I ended.

right2bright on June 25, 2008 at 4:43 PM

Pander Pretzel.

Maquis on June 25, 2008 at 5:45 PM

This is another case of the tyranny of a minority (loony far left moonbat nutroots) over the majority (not only the spineless Democrat politicians, but the rest of us who value the safety and security of our country and realize that suing telecoms who honestly believed they were complying legally with duly empowered government agencies will only hurt all of us by driving the cost of doing business up and further restricting entrepreneurism).

Wildcatter1980 on June 25, 2008 at 12:21 PM

Fixed that for you. Nothing illegal whatsoever has been done by the use of domestic switches to wiretap foreign citizens. My JOB as an intelligence gatherer was to use any means necessary to get intel on enemy activities, especially intel which is making its way over free and open lines of communication like the air waves, or the Internet, or AT&T phone switches here in the US.

What kind of morons would rather expose 157 men in a vulnerable ship to possible hostile fire when they could just tap an American phone switch through which over 80% of the world’s telecommunications are transferred? God, our Congress is as stupid as a bag of hammers most of the time. Dhimmicrats are dumber than that.

Subsunk

Subsunk on June 25, 2008 at 7:11 PM