Much to everyone’s surprise, House Democrats simply wouldn’t budge when the Bush administration demanded that Congress pass a permanent “Protect America Act” — with retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies. The law expired, the president threw a fit, and lawmakers broke for a two-week spring recess.
Despite claims that congressional inaction was responsible for increased threats against Americans, and despite demands that the president would never accept a compromise on surveillance power and telecom immunity, the White House indicated recently that the Bush gang might be willing to chat with Democratic leaders after all.
Just a few days ago, The Hill reported that House Republicans, who had been shouting that the sky was falling as a result of the PAA’s expiration, have apparently decided to accept the status quo and turn their attention elsewhere.
House Republicans are poised to shift their focus from national security to the economy, hoping to rally opposition to what they claim are Democratic plans to raise taxes amid the economic downturn.
Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) is expected to announce Thursday that the House GOP floor emphasis will transition away from passing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and earmark reform to “stop the tax hike.”
Given this, it’s worth pausing to wonder if House Dems just won the FISA/immunity fight. Glenn Greenwald makes the case that Republicans failed on this one.