On the House Vote on FISA
February 13, 2008
All Members of Congress fully understand and support our responsibility to protect the American people and the need for the President, the Congress, and policymakers to have the best possible intelligence to fight terrorism.
On Friday, a surveillance law insisted upon by the President last August will expire. Today, an overwhelming majority of House Democrats voted to extend that law for three weeks so that agreement could be reached with the Senate on a better version of that law. The President and House Republicans refused to support the extension and therefore will bear the responsibility should any adverse national consequences result.
However, even if the Protect America Act expires later this week, the American people can be confident that our country remains safe and strong. Every order entered under the law can remain in effect for 12 months from the date it was issued.
Furthermore, the underlying Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which provides for the surveillance of terrorists and provides that in emergencies surveillance can begin without warrant, remains intact and available to our intelligence agencies. Unlike last August, the FISA court has no backlog of cases, and thus can issue necessary court orders for surveillance immediately.