September 29, 2006

THE LAST-MINUTE FLURRY OF LEGISLATIVE ACTIVITY CONTINUES:

The House approved a bill Thursday that would grant legal status to President Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program with new restrictions. Republicans called it a test before the election of whether Democrats want to fight or coddle terrorists. . . .

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., that give legal status under certain conditions to Bush’s warrantless wiretapping of calls and e-mails between people on U.S. soil making calls or sending e-mails and those in other countries.

Under the measure, the president would be authorized to conduct such wiretaps if he:

_ Notifies the House and Senate intelligence committees and congressional leaders.

_ Believes an attack is imminent and later explains the reason and names the individuals and groups involved.

_ Renews his certification every 90 days.

The Senate also could vote on a similar bill before Congress recesses at the end of the week. Leaders concede that differences between the versions are so significant they cannot reconcile them into a final bill that can be delivered to Bush before the Nov. 7 congressional elections.

It’s almost as if they’re more interested in forcing Democrats to vote on this before the elections than they are in actually getting the bill out.