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It is good to see President Bush and the Republicans standing their ground and reaffirming that there are still differences left between the two major political parties. In the wake of the Senate Dems’ retreat on FISA, Bush is pressuring House Democrats to send him a permanent FISA fix–not the same, old temporary band-aids.
The Hill reports on the showdown:
In a move that puts great pressure on the House, President Bush said Wednesday that he would not sign any more temporary extensions to legislation updating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
Bush praised the Senate for passing a long-term FISA fix Tuesday by a “wide, bipartisan” majority. He added that there is “no reason” why the House could not “immediately” pass the same bill.
Congress last summer passed a FISA update but, in the hopes of revisiting the issue, included a sunset provision that would have let it expire earlier this year. When work on a long-term bill was not completed by the deadline, congressional leaders and the White House agreed to a two-week extension.
However, Bush’s statement indicates that he has had enough. He blasted the House for having “failed to pass a good bill” since last summer.
GOP whip Roy Blunt sends the following statement:
House Republican Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.) issued the following statement today after the president announced that, should House Democrats attempt to further delay a vote on fixing the terrorist loophole in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), he will veto the 21-day extension the majority reportedly will attempt to pass this afternoon:
“That the majority would continue to drag its feet on closing the terrorist loophole in FISA is nothing new; the last six months have shown them quite adept at kicking the can down the road, all the while hoping never to find its end.
“Fortunately for the American people, today is where that road ends. And, as the president warned this morning: if Democrats attempt to sneak through another temporary, short-term bill, they’ll find a vetoed piece of legislation on the other end.
“Six-months have passed since Democrats first sought to avert their attention from the urgent needs of our intelligence community. In that time, we’ve seen temporary patches on the heels of short-term fixes on the backs of emergency stopgaps. But not once have we seen a legitimate attempt at a genuine, long-term fix for the gaping loophole that persists today.
“It’s time the majority comes to the realization that passing a long-term fix to the terrorist loophole – that also extends protection to companies that cooperated with our intelligence agencies following 9/11 – is the only responsible course of action. And if they can’t arrive at the conclusion themselves, perhaps Republicans in the House can help them to it.”
Update 1:15pm Eastern. Just in from John Boehner’s office…
House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) issued the following statement on the decision by House Democratic leaders to consider another temporary extension of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) instead of passing the bipartisan, Senate-passed bill:
“The refusal of House Democratic leaders to promptly consider the bipartisan Senate bill is the height of irresponsibility. A bipartisan majority in the U.S. Senate joined together yesterday to give our intelligence officials all the tools they need to keep America safe while adding appropriate liability protections for patriotic third parties who have helped us defend our country. A group of Blue Dog Democrats has written to Speaker Pelosi, asking her to schedule this bill for quick passage on the House floor. And President Bush is fully prepared to sign the measure into law. So, it is clear that only a small group of House Democratic leaders stand in the way of making this critical national security legislation the law of the land.
“Our terrorist surveillance laws are critical to keeping our nation safe from attack, and until we modernize them, our intelligence officials will be at a significant disadvantage against the terrorists who threaten our way of life. The Senate-passed bill would modernize these laws in the long-term so intelligence officials – not government lawyers – are entrusted to protect our national security. President Bush has said he will not sign another temporary measure that only kicks the can farther down the road, and I stand behind that decision.
“The Majority has played games with FISA modernization for months on end, and today, those games must end. Delaying action on a long-term modernization bill puts our national security at risk. It’s time for House Democratic leaders to do the right thing and allow the House to consider the Senate’s bipartisan bill so President Bush can sign it into law.”