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FISA Smackdown: See, It’s Not Futile. Activism Works.

Twice now an authoritarian coalition of Democrats and Republicans has tried to ram S. 2248 (the FISA Amendments Act) through the Senate without debate. Twice now the authoritarians have failed, for very different reasons.

In late December, the authoritarian wing of the Senate tried to pass the FISA Amendments Act while they thought that most Americans would be too soaked with egg nog to notice. There was a cloture vote to end debate on S. 2248, and the majority voting to end debate and proceed to a vote was huge, 76 for and just 10 against. The following were the only Senators to vote to continue debate:

Barbara Boxer of California
Sherrod Brown of Ohio
Maria Cantwell of Washington
Ben Cardin of Maryland
Christopher Dodd of Connecticut
Russ Feingold of Wisconsin
Tom Harkin of Iowa
John Kerry of Massachusetts
Robert Menendez of New Jersey
Ron Wyden of Oregon

Joseph Biden, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama ditched their promises to fight the bill, not even showing up to vote. What stopped the FISA Amendments Act was the willingness of one Senator, Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, to filibuster on the bill after the cloture vote was held. At that point, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid realized that time was running out for the passage of budget legislation before the end of the year. In order to save the budget legislation, Reid postponed further consideration of the FISA Amendments Act until January.

In late January, the authoritarians in the Senate tried to pass the bill again. Thinking that he had an easy authoritarian win in his hands, Republican Senator Mitch McConnell scheduled another cloture vote to end debate for Monday, January 28. But things went differently this time. A full 45 Senators voted against ending debate. This is the list of Senators who voted against ending debate yesterday:

Daniel Akaka of Hawaii
Max Baucus of Montana
Evan Bayh of Indiana
Joseph Biden of Delaware
Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico

Barbara Boxer of California
Sherrod Brown of Ohio
Robert Byrd of West Virginia
Maria Cantwell of Washington
Ben Cardwin of Maryland
Thomas Carper of Delaware
Robert Casey of Pennsylvania
Hillary Clinton of New York
Kent Conrad of North Dakota

Christopher Dodd of Connecticut
Byron Dorgan of North Dakota
Richard Durbin of Illinois

Russell Feingold of Wisconsin
Dianne Feinstein of California
Daniel Inouye of Hawaii
Tim Johnson of South Dakota
Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts

John Kerry of Massachusetts
Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota
Herb Kohl of Wisconsin
Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey
Patrick Leahy of Vermont
Carl Levin of Michigan
Claire McCaskill of Missouri

Robert Menendez of New Jersey
Barbara Mikulski of Maryland
Patty Murray of Washington
Barack Obama of Illinois
Jack Reed of Rhode Island
Harry Reid of Nevada
John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia
Ken Salazar of Colorado
Bernard Sanders of Vermont
Charles Schumer of New York
Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania
Debbie Stabenow of Michigan
Jon Tester of Montana
James Webb of Virginia
Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island

Ron Wyden of Oregon

This was the exact same vote on the exact same bill, and yet 35 more Senators (indicated above in bold) voted to continue debate.

The difference? It’s not the bill, and it’s not the nature of the vote. The difference is you. Over the past month loads and loads of people, including you, called Senators, flooded their offices and overloaded their voice mail systems with demands that they support the Constitution and hold back this bill.

Resistance is not futile. When enough people participate, activism works.

4 comments to FISA Smackdown: See, It’s Not Futile. Activism Works.

  • Tom

    YEA!!! My senators (Casey and Spector) voted to continue the debate. i’m impressed!

  • Luke

    I am happy to know that Senator Patty Murray voted to continue debate; I called both my Washington Senators yesterday and it seems like she must have been of like mind! Thanks also for the work you do to bring these to our attention in a timely manner, its hard to stay on top of everything! I intend to watch this and keep encouraging them to defeat the amendment.

  • Iroquois

    It would be interesting to see who voted to close debate, as opposed to just not showing up. A couple of senators on the Democratic side of the aisle applauded when FISA was mentioned in the speech last night. If you could figure out who they are, they deserve the voters’ wrath.

  • Jim

    Follow the links to see for yourself.

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