Tuesday, February 19, 2008

National Security Legislative Wrap-up

Congress is in recess this week.


The Senate is scheduled to vote on February 26 on whether to invoke cloture on two bills related to Iraq, the fight against al Qaeda and the readiness of our armed forces. The first measure cuts funding for U.S. troops in Iraq 120 days after enactment of the measure except for specified purposes, including bringing the troops home. The second measure requires an Administration a report to Congress "setting forth the global strategy of the United States to combat and defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates."

On February 12, the Senate approved continued surveillance of Americans by a 68 - 29 vote, with 19 Democrats voting in favor. The major difference between the Senate and House-passed bills is whether to provide retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies that participated in warrantless surveillance. On February 13, the Senate approved the Intelligence Authorization bill (HR 2082) which included language that bars the use of waterboarding as an interrogation technique. The vote was 51 - 45. The President has promised to veto the bill because of this restriction.

House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee chairman John Murtha (D-PA) indicated that the remaining $120 billion fiscal year 2008 Supplemental Appropriations bill to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be considered by his committee by the end of February and by the House in March. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert Byrd (D-WV) has indicated he does not plan to take up the bill until April at the earliest.

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