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The Twenty-Five Most Hopeful Senators To Call on H.R. 6304, the FISA Amendments Act

One day from now, on Tuesday, July 8, the U.S. Senate is set to vote on final passage of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, also known as H.R. 6304. The bill will remove citizens’ standing to challenge the constitutionality of warrantless wiretapping programs that we know existed and we know were illegal. It will give a president’s administration the kingly power of electronically and physically searching the communications and property of anyone, anywhere for periods of 67 days without a reason, without a warrant, without the approval of any authority at all. The presidential administration will be able to keep the information it obtains in these periods for as long as it desires.

If you believe that independence and freedom depend on a system of checks and balances against the arbitrary exertion of power, this bill should scare you silly. If you believe in the Constitution as the basis of American government, this bill should leave you outraged. The appropriate outcome, assuming the U.S. Senate is filled with thoughtful and freedom-loving people, is for the Senate to reject H.R. 6304. Unfortunately, it appears that the U.S. Senate is filled with sheep: only 15 people voted to continue debate on the bill, and most Senators appear inclined to pass it into law.

The 15 Senators who voted to continue debate are most likely to vote against the bill. Congratulations are due to them:

Joseph Biden
Barbara Boxer
Sherrod Brown
Maria Cantwell
Christopher Dodd
Richard Durbin
Russell Feingold
Tom Harkin
John Kerry
Frank Lautenberg
Patrick Leahy
Robert Menendez
Bernard Sanders
Charles Schumer
Ron Wyden

But 15 Senators aren’t enough to stop this law. It isn’t nearly enough. At a minimum, 40 Senators are needed to further slow down the process of passing this bill, hopefully enough to prevent its passage at all. That means we need 25 more Senators to join the opposition to H.R. 6304. If Senators really are sheep, what they need is a good whack with a shepherd’s crook in order to turn around and head in the right direction. That means you — in the plural. You need to call your Senators and try to get them to turn their acquiescence to H.R. 6304 into opposition.

Who are the 25 Senators most likely (besides the honorable 15) to agree to oppose H.R. 6304? The best predictor of future action is past action, and we’ve aggregated that in our Progressive Patriots Senate Scorecard of legislative action for the 110th Congress. The Senators with more progressive records in the past are more likely to oppose this legislation now.

Those who are quite likely to add their no vote against H.R. 6304:

Senator Jeff Bingaman, Democrat. Progressive Action Score: 63/100. (Get Senator Bingaman’s Phone Number)
Senator Benjamin Cardin, Democrat. Progressive Action Score: 69/100. (Get Senator Cardin’s Phone Number)
Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat. Progressive Action Score: 63/100. (Get Senator Feinstein’s Phone Number)
Senator Edward Kennedy, Democrat. Progressive Action Score: 75/100. (Get Senator Kennedy’s Phone Number)
Senator Barack Obama, Democrat. Progressive Action Score: 69/100. (Get Senator Obama’s Phone Number)
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat. Progressive Action Score: 63/100. (Get Senator Whitehouse’s Phone Number)

Those whose records indicate they ought to be at least somewhat likely to add their no vote against H.R. 6304:

Senator Daniel Akaka, Democrat. Progressive Action Score: 56/100. (Get Senator Akaka’s Phone Number)
Senator Hillary Clinton, Democrat. Progressive Action Score: 56/100. (Get Senator Clinton’s Phone Number)
Senator Carl Levin, Democrat. Progressive Action Score: 44/100. (Get Senator Levin’s Phone Number)
Senator Barbara Mikulski, Democrat. Progressive Action Score: 56/100. (Get Senator Mikulski’s Phone Number)
Senator Patty Murray, Democrat. Progressive Action Score: 44/100. (Get Senator Murray’s Phone Number)
Senator Jack Reed, Democrat. Progressive Action Score: 56/100. (Get Senator Reed’s Phone Number)
Senator Harry Reid, Democrat. Progressive Action Score: 50/100. (Get Senator Reid’s Phone Number)
Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat. Progressive Action Score: 44/100. (Get Senator Stabenow’s Phone Number)

Not exactly long shots, but pretty close regarding H.R. 6304:

Senator Max Baucus, Democrat. Progressive Action Score: 25/100. (Get Senator Baucus’ Phone Number)
Senator Robert Byrd, Democrat. Progressive Action Score: 25/100. (Get Senator Byrd’s Phone Number)
Senator Robert Casey, Democrat. Progressive Action Score: 38/100. (Get Senator Casey’s Phone Number)
Senator Susan Collins, Republican. Progressive Action Score: 25/100. (Get Senator Collins’ Phone Number)
Senator Byron Dorgan, Democrat. Progressive Action Score: 38/100. (Get Senator Dorgan’s Phone Number)
Senator Daniel Inouye, Democrat. Progressive Action Score: 38/100. (Get Senator Inouye’s Phone Number)
Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat. Progressive Action Score: 38/100. (Get Senator Klobuchar’s Phone Number)
Senator Herb Kohl, Democrat. Progressive Action Score: 31/100. (Get Senator Kohl’s Phone Number)
Senator Blanche Lincoln, Democrat. Progressive Action Score: 31/100. (Get Senator Lincoln’s Phone Number)
Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat. Progressive Action Score: 31/100. (Get Senator McCaskill’s Phone Number)
Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat. Progressive Action Score: 25/100. (Get Senator Nelson’s Phone Number)
Senator Olympia Snowe, Republican. Progressive Action Score: 25/100. (Get Senator Snowe’s Phone Number)
Senator Arlen Specter, Republican. Progressive Action Score: 25/100. (Get Senator Specter’s Phone Number)
Senator Jon Tester, Democrat. Progressive Action Score: 31/100. (Get Senator Tester’s Phone Number)

These are the predictions I’d make based solely on the Progressive Action Scores of these Senators, and they add up to only 28 realistic possibilities, even including the pretty-close-to-long-shot set that rounds ‘em out. Going beyond scorecard predictions, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Mikulski have a long track record in favor of Big Brother Homeland Security bullcrap, despite their otherwise progressive records, so they’re not hopeful. Senator Barack Obama has already indicated that he’ll vote for the bill, even though he should really know better. That takes us back down to 25 realistic possibilities, which shows what a difficult task opponents of H.R. 6304 have set for themselves: the sad and harsh truth is that a majority in the Senate is perfectly willing to throw constitutional checks and balances to the wind.

But it is better to try and probably not succeed than to not try and definitely not succeed. So let’s try. Make what calls you can.

5 comments to The Twenty-Five Most Hopeful Senators To Call on H.R. 6304, the FISA Amendments Act

  • Zelio

    THIS is what we get after the election of 2006. With George W. Bush a lame duck with just six months to go in his last term, the Democrats help to extend one of his worst abuses.

    How pathetic.

  • Anonymous

    The Democrats are no help and believe they can do whatever they want since Bush’s approval rating is so low. They’re completely WRONG in this, especially since Congress’ approval rating is down around 13% also (according to NPR news this morning). Since we have no effective third party and since our electorate is so apathetic and ignorant (politically anyway), it’s not likely that anything much will change EVEN IF O’Bama is elected AND EVEN IF Congress is taken over by a majority of Democrats (after all, Pelosi turned away from what she was elected to do immediately upon being seated). This situation results DIRECTLY from the corporate control of our government and won’t be remedied any time soon (since Nader won’t be elected).

    So don’t look for any leadership from America regarding the War on Terror (what a sad sick joke that turned out to be) or the War on Drugs (another pitiful program that has only lead to more “bad cops” confiscating money and property), or even the unfolding disaster of climate change. We’re going down as a “super power” (because of our lack of leadership, integrity and commitment to the Constitution among other factors) and will end up as a third world country regarding our currency, quality of life, access to affordable health care, education, infrastructure upkeep, and progressivism.

  • Tom

    sorry, i forgot to sign in above

  • Focus on Sheldon Whitehouse: Whitehouse appears to waffling on how to vote tomorrow, and he needs to hear clear statements that he ought to vote NO.

  • Jim

    Count out Senator Kennedy: apparently, due to his brain cancer treatment he won’t be returning to the Senate until August.

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