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H.R. 6304: Has Your Member of Congress Even READ This Bill?

Last night, when I called Rep. Deborah Pryce’s office, I couldn’t get through. The Republican Representative for Ohio’s 15th District doesn’t have voice mail to take messages after hours, not at her Washington office and not at her Columbus, Ohio office either. The phone just rang and rang. This morning at 8:30 AM, however, I got in touch with Pryce’s DC office. My goal: to find out Rep. Pryce’s intentions regarding H.R. 6304, the bill that would legalize unlimited physical and electronic surveillance, search and seizure of all persons’ property by your government. It would unconstitutionally nullify the 4th Amendment of the Bill of Rights.

I was clearly the first person to call Rep. Pryce’s office regarding H.R. 6304: when I mentioned the bill number, the staffer answering the phone asked me point blank, “what bill is that?” When I told her the bill would be voted on today, she said she’d have to look it up on her computer because she didn’t know about it.

It’s disconcerting that Deborah Pryce has not been inundated by calls about this bill from Ohio’s 15th District. But the response I got to my next question was even more disconcerting. I asked the staffer if Rep. Pryce had read H.R. 6304. The staffer responded that she wasn’t sure. Then I mentioned that the bill would be voted on today. The staffer retorted, “Oh, if the bill is being voted on today, then I’m sure Representative Pryce has read it.” I said, “She has? The bill was submitted to the House just yesterday, after business hours…”.

That’s true: the bill wasn’t even printed until 5:12 PM June 18, 2008, and it wasn’t submitted to the House of Representatives until June 19, yesterday morning. The bill is 114 pages long, and it has been submitted under rules that will permit only one hour of debate and absolutely no amendments.

The aide quickly backpedaled: “I’m sure Representative Pryce is aware of the bill.”

How embarrassing. This is a bill that radically excises Americans’ constitutional rights. It’s been submitted as a bill for a mere 24 hours, too short a time for a member of Congress working on other matters to actually sit down and read all 114 pages. And yet the Congress is going to go ahead and pass a bill most members haven’t read anyway.

Stop this madness. Click here to find your House member’s phone number. Then flood the Congress with your calls in a way you haven’t before. Do it now. Any member of Congress who votes for a bill that hacks away at our constitutional liberties without even reading it is guilty of a gross betrayal of the public trust. If you are aware of the problem but don’t get off your ass to at least register a protest over the phone, you lose standing to complain about it later. Complain now, in these waning hours, while your complaint still matters.

1 comment to H.R. 6304: Has Your Member of Congress Even READ This Bill?

  • Jared

    Here’s the response I got from Pat “Douchebag” Tiberi in response to his voting for this bill:

    Dear Mr. Petersen,

    Thank you so much for your email. I appreciate this opportunity to correspond with you.

    Last year Congress passed the bipartisan Protect America Act that allows our intelligence community to more effectively collect foreign intelligence. President Bush signed this short-term fix into law on August 5, 2007. The provisions of this law expired in February 2008.

    On June 19, 2008 Representative Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) introduced H.R. 6304, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. H.R. 6304 was considered by the U.S. House of Representatives on June 20, 2008 and passed by a vote of 293 – 129. This bill requires the intelligence community to obtain a warrant in order to monitor communications of U.S. citizens. H.R. 6304 does not explicitly grant retroactive liability protection to telephone companies for information that they provided to the government under the administration’s previous surveillance program. Rather, it provides protections for companies in cases where they received written requests from the attorney general certifying that warrants were not required by law to collect such information and the information provided was intended to prevent terrorism. I voted in favor of this bill because it will keep Americans safe, protect their civil liberties, and prevent runaway lawsuits. Democrat leaders Speaker Pelosi, Rep. Hoyer, and many others also supported H.R. 6304, which currently awaits action in the Senate.

    I do not believe it is productive to open the door to lawsuits against entities that cooperated with the federal government in good faith and believed they were acting within the law. It is also important to note that our future ability to monitor foreign targets of terrorism relies on the voluntary cooperation of these same entities with our nation’s intelligence community.

    Thanks again for taking a moment to share your thoughts with me. If I may be of assistance in the future, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

    Sincerely,

    Patrick J. Tiberi
    Representative to Congress

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