While House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) presides over negotiations on the new surveillance bill, House Republicans have continued to push the Senate’s version, which contains retroactive immunity for the telecoms, every which way they can.
Earlier this week, they tried to convince moderate Dems that it really was in their best interest (sub. req.):
“This is an opportunity for the 21 Blue Dog Democrats who signed a letter supporting the bipartisan, Senate-passed FISA bill to prove that they are serious about America’s national security,” said Michael Steel, House Minority Leader John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) spokesman. “Will they choose to protect their constituents or will they back the Democratic leadership in kowtowing to trial lawyers and liberal special interests?”
Meanwhile, Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) (yes, that Jerry Lewis) will try to tack on the Senate’s bill to the war supplemental spending bill. As The Politico notes, the Dems on the appropriations committee will likely vote that down, but “at the very least, he would put members of the majority on the record rejecting the Senate bill, something Republicans have done repeatedly.”
So far the moderate Dems have held strong to the Dem leadership’s position that retroactive immunity is off the table. Hoyer has said that he hopes that negotiations will result in a new bill by late May. Regardless, the next showdown is likely to take place before August, when the wiretaps authorized under the Protect America Act will actually begin to lapse. So we’ll see what happens then.