Barack Obama reiterated his support for the FISA compromise, set for a vote today in the Senate after its passage in the House before the Independence Day break. Obama pledged to split telecom immunity from the bill, which would have basically trashed the compromise and thrown the entire effort back to square 1:
The Senate is finally expected to wrap up the bill updating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act today, which includes the controversial provision of retroactive immunity for telecom companies facing lawsuit. While the bill splits Democrats, it’s expected to pass with united Republican support.
Obama will be back for today’s vote and has said he’ll support final passage.
Two amendments attempted to do just that. The first, sponsored by Arlen Specter, got defeated 61-37, with Obama voting in support. The second, sponsored by Jeff Bingaman and Russ Feingold, also went down to defeat on a 56-42 vote, again with Obama supporting. The latter would have removed telecom immunity entirely, while Specter’s amendment would have forced immunity to wait on a ruling on the constitutionality and legality the NSA’s surveillance programs.
The question now becomes whether Obama will keep his word — or, rather, which word he’ll keep. He promised at one time to filibuster any bill that contained telecom immunity. Now he pledged to support the bill, even with telecom immunity. As John Stephenson notes, his base is ready to explode if he votes Yea on the final bill.
As these votes show, however, the case against telecom immunity has failed to win a majority of the Senate or the House. We can expect a fairly easy passage of the final FISA bill, allowing the NSA to get back to business and the trial lawyers to look for another target. I’ll update this as the news proceeds.
Update, 2:29 pm ET: Obama just voted to approve a procedural motion that will bring HR 6304 up for a vote. Boxer and Durbin voted no on the motion; Obama appears ready to break hearts across the Left.
Update, 2:36: Kristen Breitweiser at HuffPo is keeping a candle burning for Hillary over this. Unfortunately, Hillaryvoted for the procedural motion as well. Looks like she plans to support the FISA compromise, although like Obama she voted for both failed amendments.
Update, 2:39: Clinton changed her vote to No. Profiles in Courage, or did she read the HuffPo article?
Update, 2:45: That was a cloture motion that Obama supported. No filibuster for the netroots! Cloture passed 72-26; the actual vote comes next. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) opened up final debate with a speech in support of the FISA reform.
2:56: Obama votes yes; Clinton votes no. However, voting is still open …
3:04 – Feinstein’s support for the FISA reform shouldn’t surprise too many people. She’s a moderate on nat’l-security matters. Kerry and Boxer, unfortunately, didn’t surprise anyone with their no votes.
3:06 – Bill passes with a 69-28 vote. Did Hillary set herself up for a netroots push at the convention?