FISA Bill Tabled After Thousands of Calls from Democracy for America Members

Released On: December 18, 2007 Burlington, VT

Members of Democracy for America, our nation's largest progressive political action organization, scored a victory in the battle to protect the Constitution last night. In an unexpected move, Majority Leader Harry Reid pulled the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act reauthorization bill from the Senate floor. The version that was tabled until January included retroactive immunity for the telecommunications companies who participated in President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program.

Senator Chris Dodd, joined by Senators Edward Kennedy, Russ Feingold, and others, had stated their intent to filibuster the bill because of the inclusion of retroactive immunity. Before the filibuster even began, Senator Reid came to the floor and said he was pulling the bill because he had received "thousands of communications from across the country." In large part this was due to the work of Democracy for America. Over 2,443 DFA members reported calling Senator Reid's office in a bold display of the people-powered grassroots organizing for which DFA is best known.

President Bush had vowed to veto any version of the bill which did not include retroactive immunity. In his remarks on the Senate floor yesterday, Senator Kennedy explained the logical inconsistencies of the President's position, "The President has said that American lives will be sacrificed if Congress does not change FISA. But he has also said that he will veto any FISA bill that does not grant retroactive immunity. No immunity, no new FISA bill. So if we take the President at his word, he is willing to let Americans die to protect the phone companies."

"The FISA bill was another example of President Bush using scare tactics to push through legislation that benefits special interests instead of the interests of American citizens," said Jim Dean, Chair of Democracy for America. "Thanks to our members getting involved, making phone calls, writing letters, and believing in the idea of government of the people, by the people, and for the people

it is clear that Senator Reid got the message."

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