Senate Defeats Effort To Strip Wiretapping Law Of Immunity For Telecoms

An amendment sponsored by hold-out Democrats and designed to strip the Senate’s wiretapping bill of legal immunity for telecom companies was defeated today with a 66-32 vote.

The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Sen. Russell Feingold (D-WI), is the first of three the Senate is voting on today dealing with the immunity provisions in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act law.

Without any amendments, the law will effectively end a stack of lawsuits filed against telecom companies that provided information about customers to the government without warrants as part of the White House’s surveillance programs after September 11, 2001.

The Senate is wrapping up debate on the FISA law and its proposed amendments today and a vote on the overall law is expected later today.

A bill with similar immunity passed in the House last month and is expected to be signed into law by the president.