Congress

Congress Will Vote Today on Continuing Resolution That Hikes Spending, Extends Patriot Act Surveillance

Rep. Justin Amash and some progressive lawmakers are trying to block it, but most Democrats seem happy to hand more spying powers to a president they are investigating for abusing his power.

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At the same time that Democrats are holding impeachment inquiries to determine if President Donald Trump abused his executive power, they apparently have no qualms about letting him continue to spy on Americans.

While impeachment hearings are getting most of the attention on Capitol Hill today, House Democrats will also hold a vote on a continuing resolution that will postpone a government shutdown—slated for this Thursday, if Congress can't agree on a budget deal—until December 20. Included in the short-term budget deal is a provision to fully re-authorize the Patriot Act for an additional three months beyond its current sunset at the end of the year, extending it through March 2020. That will postpone any effort to reform or abolish the 9/11-era law that grants the federal government broad surveillance powers including the ability to collect phone records and online data.

"Very cool way to resist Trump by ensuring he continues to have terrifying authoritarian surveillance powers," wrote Evan Greer, deputy director for Fight For The Future, a digital rights advocacy group, on Twitter.

Rep. Justin Amash (I–Mich.) introduced an amendment on Monday night that would have removed the Patriot Act reauthorization from the continuing resolution, but the amendment was blocked by Democratic leaders.

The continuing resolution will also boost pay for the military, fund next year's census, and hike overall spending by about $322 billion—a figure that was agreed to earlier this year, but still seems irresponsible given the rapidly rising deficit and $23 trillion national debt.

The four-week stopgap funding bill also punts on the question of paying for Trump's border wall. That shortcoming might be the best way to stop the reauthorization of the surveillance provisions, since Trump has demanded funding for the border wall in exchange for his signature on a continuing resolution. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D–N.Y.) has suggested that Trump might veto the bill in an effort to hamstring the ongoing impeachment investigation.

The continuing resolution's passage in the House seems assured, but some Democrats are signaling their unwillingness to support the bill because of the surveillance issues. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.) and Ilhan Omar (D–Minn.) tweeted that they opposed the Patriot Act's reauthorization.

Progressive groups including Demand Progress have also highlighted the Patriot Act reauthorization in tweets and emails encouraging opposition to the continuing resolution. But while Democrats may face a small revolt from their left flank, there is little reason to think the passage of the continuing resolution will be in doubt when it is brought to the floor later on Tuesday.

Asked about the possible progressive opposition to the spending bill Tuesday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D–Md.) told CNN's Haley Byrd that the three-month extension will allow time for lawmakers to "deal with the issue legislatively," rather than simply letting the Patriot Act lapse.

If there is a silver lining in today's likely reauthorization of mass surveillance of Americans, it could be that Democratic leaders commit to at least considering the possibility of maybe reforming an 18-year-old law that's eroded civil liberties without making Americans much safer.

"Every representative in Congress should oppose this legislation," Amash tweeted on Monday. It would be a huge surprise if more than a handful of lawmakers do.

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  1. At the same time that Democrats are holding impeachment inquiries to determine if President Donald Trump abused his executive power, they apparently have no qualms about letting him continue to spy on Americans.

    It’s investigations all the way down!

    1. “Rep. Justin Amash and some OTHER progressive lawmakers”

      FTFY.

      1. Which policies, specifically, of Amash’s do you think are progressive?

        1. Using the government as a weapon to attack one’s political enemies by any means necessary

          1. He’s not the one under investigation for this very thing.

  2. but most Democrats seem happy to hand more spying powers to a president they are investigating for abusing his power

    One of the many reasons I have trouble taking all of their hysterical talk about Nazi Germany, Gilead, etc. seriously.

    1. They don’t believe it themselves. If they did they wouldn’t always talk about enacting laws that would disarm themselves and leave them to the mercy of this orange dictator either.

  3. Amash: A Voice Crying in the Wilderness; he may be dead on with most issues but nobody seems to care in a world of business as usual and moar goverment

    1. Amash completely impotent?
      At least, he seems to like it that way

  4. Democrats seem happy to hand more spying powers to a president they are investigating for abusing his power.

    Of course they are. It makes more sense when you realize this president isn’t actually in control of the bureaucracy he was elected to be in charge of. As we see in Russia gate and this most recent Ukranian business. The security state is actively aligned with the Dems against the republicans right now, so why screw up a good thing? Why piss off the people who are actively helping politically?

    1. What Idle says is true

    2. They know the Orange Usurper is only there temporarily and as soon as he’s gone it will be back to business as usual. Why would they vote to give themselves a permanent disadvantage in the name of giving their enemy a temporary disadvantage?

      1. Exactly, they know that whether its in 2020, 2024, or even 2028, eventually the power will be theirs to abuse again

  5. Congress Will Vote Today on Continuing Resolution That Hikes Spending, Extends Patriot Act Surveillance

    Why not stick with what “works”?

    1. Rep. Justin Amash and some progressive lawmakers are trying to block it, but most Democrats seem happy to hand more spying powers to a president they are investigating for abusing his power.

      Who knows what Republicans are going to do. The Media Narrative has not been released. Boehm only cares about Democrats.

      1. A quick scan of the twitters shows Thomas Massie and some Freedom Caucus members opposing it. I guess they aren’t progressive enough for the provocative centrists at Reason.

  6. they have cried SHUTDOWN so many times does anyone listen anymore

  7. shame We let them get away with pretending to be Congressmen.

    1. Oh, they are being Congressmen. That’s part of the problem.

      1. AOC can’t even dawg right

  8. So a Democrat control house will pass a spending bill that will probably add to the debt. Sure the Republican controlled Senate will probably pass it, and Trump sign it. But it’s all the republican’s fault and the dems have no dirt on their hands.

  9. Yeah that’s gonna be a no from me dog

    So cool. So with it. So outta sight!

  10. Yeah that’s gonna be a no from me dog

    — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 18, 2019
    Yeah…no. Count me out.

    — Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) November 19, 2019

    This is what serious politicians look like.

    1. Well, at least they’re voting no. Hopefully they at least understand that they can’t cast their vote via SnapChat.

      1. They are saying on social media they will vote no.
        Want to bet the vote is a voice vote?

      2. How much longer do you think before vote selfies start showing up? I can see at least bubble-head A posing with duck lips and flashing the V sign while trying to figure out if Yea or Nay means no.

        1. Isn’t that how AOC got elected?

        2. You don’t know what you’re talking about, dog.

    2. You’re half right.

    3. They voted Yes to waive the 72 hour rule so it could pass today.

  11. Can we pass a constitutional amendment to the effect that any year in which the congress does not pass a “real” budget, does not count toward congressional pensions, all members forfeit half of their campaign funds, and all committee chairs have to resign?

  12. Why not just have a constitutional amendment that Congress is dissolved if they don’t pass a real budget.

  13. Don’t I remember POTUS Trump saying he did not want to sign these things anymore? He should just veto the damned thing and make Congress do their jobs and do the people’s business.

    The Patriot Act is an abomination. Terrible name, as there is nothing patriotic about it at all.

    1. And when he signs it (like he always has) will you criticize him for it?

      1. What a strange thing to police.

        1. Holding people accountable for their actions over their words is for cucks. Amirite?

      2. Yep. The criticism is deserved.

        The Patriot Act IS an abomination. It eviscerated our individual liberties. Rep. Amash might be a total poser, but he is not wrong about this.

        Spending must be addressed much more concretely and directly. Are we really saying that in a 322B package, we cannot take out 16.1B (just 5%)?

        1. ^Dido.

          “will you criticize him for it?”, Yes Leo — bad policy is bad policy (period).

          No matter how much your wet crotch wants to believe the masses of registered Republicans are just supporting Gangster Colors over anything else… Sorry to say; That gangster-groupie mentality seems to mostly come from lefties.

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