President Bush's stalled anti-terrorism agenda edged forward Tuesday, with a rebellious House member rewriting her bill on wiretaps more to his liking and maverick Senate Republicans reopening talks over how to handle detainees.
Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., offered to substitute her original bill on giving legal status to Bush's warrantless surveillance program with a bill that would grant a key administration request: allow wiretapping on Americans in the event of an "imminent" terrorist attack.
Sen. John Warner, R-Va., said "progress was being made in good faith," while Majority Leader Bill Frist said he hoped to vote on a final measure by the end of next week.
The Senate Armed Services Committee last week approved detainee legislation written by Warner, the panel's chairman, and Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., but opposed by Bush. The White House has said the committee's bill would put an end to the CIA interrogation program.
"See? It's safe to vote for Republicans in the fall. They'll hold Bush to account." This is part of what digby calls the "kabuki dance" between Republican President George Bush and Republican Senator John McCain.
Support among House moderates for the White House proposal on detainees also was faltering. GOP moderates Christopher Shays, R-Conn., and Mike Castle, R-Del., said in a letter to House GOP leaders Tuesday that they support Warner's bill.
Amid the whirl of developments, the prospects for congressional passage of the wiretapping and detainee policies were unclear in the waning week-and-a-half before Congress recesses for the Nov. 7 election. House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he expects Wilson's bill to come to the floor next week. But even if it passes the House, the Senate must churn through three conflicting pieces of legislation on the same matter.
Where are the Democrats on this issue? Not a single Democrat was cited in this article. You'd think they'd been completely silent. They haven't:The Senate's top Democrat, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, predicts little momentum on the legislation amid continued Republican disagreement. "The President picked a battle, and he thought it would be with Democrats, but it has been with Republicans. Until they resolve their issues, I do not think there is much that can be done on that," he said.
Um, well, okay. Thanks for that principled stand, Sen. Reid.
In a speech today, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, said praised the four Republicans ``who had the courage to speak'' and who voted with 11 Democrats to pass the alternative detainees-tribunal proposal. ``There is a way for us to protect America and not lose our values,'' Durbin said.
``I hope the administration will re-evaluate'' the legislation and ``move forward with us on a bipartisan basis,'' Durbin said.
Well, I guess the new definition of bi-partisanship in the U.S. is Republicans disagreeing with each other. Welcome to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republicans.
Well, surely Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) has something to say about this issue, and if anybody can find one of his comments on this matter, please let me know. I'd love to see it.
Seriously, why are the Democrats on the sidelines on this issue? The principle that torture is bad is one of the most basic American principles. Why the fuck can't we agree on even that? Why the fuck can't we at least fight against the use of torture by this administration? Why the fuck should we compromise on that point? Have we completely given up?