HouseAt least among the Repugs, LoBiondo actually had the guts to go on record as being categorically wrong, as opposed to the others who were too chicken to make a stand and probably made a bee line for that strategically placed podium full of microphones on the Capitol steps during the walkout in response to this vote, led by minority rep John Boehner (pronounced bo-ner, as noted here).
Bolten, Miers citations. In a 223-32 vote, the House approved the filing of criminal contempt-of-Congress citations in federal court against Joshua Bolten, the White House chief of staff, and Harriet Miers, the former White House counsel, over their refusal to comply with House subpoenas concerning the alleged systematic infusion of partisan politics into hiring, firing and prosecutorial decisions at several U.S. attorney offices.
A yes vote backed the contempt citations (H Res 982).
Voting yes: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.) and Joe Sestak (D., Pa.).
Voting no: Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.).
Not voting: Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), H. James Saxton (R., N.J.) and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).
Spy act extension. In a 191-229 vote, the House defeated a 21-day renewal of a version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act enacted last August. That temporary measure then expired as House leaders refused to accept a Senate bill (S 2248, below).The Repugs voted no because there was no provision for telecomm immunity, nor should there be, and my guess is that Patrick Murphy voted no because he quite rightly did not vote for the original Protect America Act anyway (as noted here, and here is more on the bill).
A yes vote backed a 21-day FISA extension (HR 5349).
Voting yes: Andrews, Brady, Fattah, Holden, Schwartz and Sestak.
Voting no: Castle, Dent, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Murphy, Pitts, Saxton and Smith.
SenateKudos to the Dems for doing the right thing here, though Dubya will never sign off on it (and as always, screw you, Arlen).
Torture ban, intelligence budget. In a 51-45 vote, the Senate sent President Bush the conference report on a fiscal 2008 intelligence budget that requires CIA personnel to obey the Army Field Manual's ban on torture of prisoners. The manual outlaws harsh techniques such as waterboarding.
A yes vote backed the conference report (HR 2082).
Voting yes: Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D., Del.), Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Bob Casey (D., Pa.), Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) and Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.).
Voting no: Arlen Specter (R., Pa.).
Government spy powers. In a 68-29 vote, the Senate passed a bill to renew the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and grant retroactive immunity to certain telecommunications firms. The bill would permit warrantless surveillance on totally foreign communications passing through U.S. switching points.And just as quickly as the Dems do the right thing, too many of them then cave on FISA led by the utterly compromised and hopelessly inept Jay Rockefeller (here).
A yes vote was to pass the bill (S 2248).
Voting yes: Carper, Casey and Specter.
Voting no: Biden, Menendez and Lautenberg.
A friend of mine forwarded a video of Casey defending this vote on C-SPAN, with Casey stating quite correctly that he voted against telecomm immunity but voted for this bill because he thought there were improvements over existing FISA law, most notably concerning civil liberties issues. However, the issue of telecomm immunity trumps everything, and Casey should have remained consistent in his opposition to this terrible bill; if the telecoms get immunity today, it will only be a matter of time before Halliburton asks for it tomorrow.
(Congress is now in recess until the week of Feb. 25, when both chambers will resume efforts to renew the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.)