The Week Ahead in CongressMay 23, 2011 - by Donny Shaw
Back in February, Congress passed a three-month extension of three of the PATRIOT Act’s most controversial surveillance programs, with Homeland Security Chairman Sen. Joe Lieberman [I, CT] saying the short extension would give them time to hold a full-fledged debate before passing a longer extension. Well, the three-month bill is set to expire at the end of the month, and, sure enough, on the calendar for both chambers this week is legislation to extend the surveillance programs for four more years, without any modifications. Below is the ACLU summary of the programs:
- Section 215 of the Patriot Act authorizes the government to obtain “any tangible thing” relevant to a terrorism investigation, even if there is no showing that the “thing” pertains to suspected terrorists or terrorist activities. This provision is contrary to traditional notions of search and seizure, which require the government to show reasonable suspicion or probable cause before undertaking an investigation that infringes upon a person’s privacy. Congress must ensure that things collected with this power have a meaningful nexus to suspected terrorist activity or it should be allowed to expire.
- Section 206 of the Patriot Act, also known as “roving John Doe wiretap” provision, permits the government to obtain intelligence surveillance orders that identify neither the person nor the facility to be tapped. This provision is contrary to traditional notions of search and seizure, which require government to state with particularity what it seeks to search or seize. Section 206 should be amended to mirror similar and longstanding criminal laws that permit roving wiretaps, but require the naming of a specific target. Otherwise, it should expire.
- Section 6001 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, or the so-called “Lone Wolf” provision, permits secret intelligence surveillance of non-US persons who are not affiliated with a foreign organization. Such an authorization, granted only in secret courts is subject to abuse and threatens our longtime understandings of the limits of the government’s investigatory powers within the borders of the United States. This provision has never been used and should be allowed to expire outright.
The Senate is scheduled to vote on cloture for the bill this afternoon. If that passes — 60 votes will be needed — then a vote on final passage will probably occur on Wednesday. If it is approved, it will move to the House for a vote later in the week.
But the PATRIOT Act isn’t the only thing happening in Congress this week. The full House floor calendar is below:
First Vote Of The Week: Monday 6:30 p.m.
Last Vote Predicted: Thursday 3:00 p.m.
MONDAY, MAY 23, 2011
On Monday, the House will meet at 2:00 p.m. for legislative business with votes postponed until 6:30 p.m.
Suspensions (5 Bills)
- H.R. 1407 – Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2011 (Rep. Runyan– Veterans’ Affairs)
- H.R. 1627 – To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for certain requirements for the placement of monuments in Arlington National Cemetery, and for other purposes (Rep. Miller (FL) – Veterans’ Affairs)
- H.R. 1383 – Restoring GI Bill Fairness Act of 2011, as amended (Rep. Miller (FL) – Veterans’ Affairs)
- H.R. 1657 – To amend title 38, United States Code, to revise the enforcement penalties for misrepresentation of a business concern as a small business concern owned and controlled by veterans or as a small business concern owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans (Rep. Stutzman – Veterans’ Affairs)
- H.R. 1893 – To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend the funding and expenditure authority of the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, to amend title 49, United States Code, to extend the airport improvement program, and for other purposes (Rep. Mica – Transportation and Infrastructure)
TUESDAY, MAY 24, 2011 AND THE BALANCE OF THE WEEK
On Tuesday, The House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for legislative business and recess immediately. At approximately 11:00 a.m., the House will convene in a Joint Meeting with the Senate for the purpose of receiving an address from The Honorable Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel. On Wednesday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for Morning Hour debate and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business. On Thursday, the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business with last votes no later than 3:00 p.m. On Friday, the House will meet in pro forma session. No votes are expected in the House.
Suspension (1 Bill)
- S. 990 – To provide for an additional temporary extension of programs under the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act of 1958, and for other purposes, as amended (Sen. Landrieu – Small Business)
H.R. 1216 – To amend the Public Health Service Act to convert funding for graduate medical education in qualified teaching health centers from direct appropriations to an authorization of appropriations (Rep. Guthrie – Energy and Commerce) (Subject to a Rule)
H.R. 1540 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (Rep. McKeon – Armed Services) (Subject to a Rule)
Possible consideration of legislation relating to expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 and Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (Judiciary/Intelligence) (Subject to a Rule)
And here’s what we know so far about the Senate calendar:
[Monday] Convenes: 2:00pm
Following any Leader remarks, the Senate will be in a period of morning business until 3pm with Senators permitted to speak therein for up to 10 minutes each.
Following morning business, the Senate will resume the motion to proceed to S.1038, a bill to provide for the extension of expiring provisions of the PATRIOT Act until June 1, 2015 with the time until 5pm equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees.
At 5:00pm, there will be a roll call vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to S.1038.