[Congressional Record Volume 158, Number 113 (Thursday, July 26, 2012)]
[Pages S5470-S5471]


  Mr. LEAHY. Last week, the Judiciary Committee considered S.3276, a 
bill reauthorizing the surveillance provisions of the FISA Amendments 
Act of 2008, which is set to expire at the end of this year. The 
Director of National Intelligence and the Attorney General have both 
stated that reauthorization of these important national security 
authorities is the ``top legislative priority of the Intelligence 
  After the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reported its 
reauthorization bill, I asked for a sequential referral. Senator 
Grassley joined me in that request. It was for a limited time and had 
we not completed our markup last Thursday, time might well have expired 
for this committee to act on it. I was surprised last week and since to 
be criticized for seeking to improve the

[[Page S5471]]

bill within its four corners. I thought that was why we sought the 
sequential referral, in order to consider and improve the bill where we 
  I worked with Senator Feinstein, the chair of the Select Committee on 
Intelligence. We came to an understanding and she supported the 
substitute amendment I offered to shorten the sunset and add more 
accountability and oversight protections. I thank her for that. I am 
always willing to work with the Senator from California, who is so 
diligent in her efforts on the Intelligence Committee. We reached a 
good compromise and agreement.
  I had circulated the core of my amendment, to shorten the sunset, 
back on July 11, before the bill was to be considered. At the request 
of Republican members of the Judiciary Committee, the bill was held 
over. I protected their right to do so under our rules. We finally 
proceeded to the bill last Thursday, July 19. Despite the delay, no 
Republicans spoke to me about any potential amendments to the bill.
  Instead, the evening before the delayed markup, for the first time, 
Republican offices circulated scores of amendments. It is unfortunate 
that there have been mischaracterizations of our committee process. 
Contrary to the statements of some on the other side, no one was 
precluded from offering an amendment. In fact, a number were offered by 
Republican Senators. The committee proceeded to vote on Senator Kyl's 
amendment, for example, to create a new material support of terrorism 
offense in title 18, and rejected it after Senator Feinstein argued 
against including it on this important measure, despite her support for 
the substance of the amendment. We proceeded to vote on Senator Lee's 
amendment, which was about FISA surveillance, and it, too, was 
defeated. So despite the misstatements to the contrary, the committee 
proceeded to consider and reject amendments.
  There came a point during our initial 2-hour markup when Senator 
Feinstein urged that amendments about matters not involving the FISA 
Amendments Act extension be considered on other vehicles at other 
times, and moved to table amendments. Those motions prevailed. We have 
had such motions before and sometimes they succeed.
  After 2 hours, as Republican Senators left, we lost a quorum and had 
to reconvene to vote on reporting the bill as amended to the Senate. I 
thank those Senators from both sides of the aisle who reconvened. The 
committee voted to report the measure and was able to do so within the 
short timeframe of our sequential referral.
  The FISA Amendments Act legislation is a top priority of the 
administration and our intelligence community. We have all acknowledged 
that. The ranking member acknowledged that it is ``a program vital to 
our national security.'' A number of Republicans proclaimed last week 
that they were ready to expedite consideration of the measure and would 
not offer amendments. Then, when the committee adopted the June 2015 
sunset date instead of one of the 2017 dates in other versions of the 
bill, they changed position and sought to use it as a vehicle for 
extraneous matters and to offer a number of riders to it that were 
rejected. I do not understand that logic and why the change in the 
sunset date or the addition of oversight provisions should change the 
character of the bill or its importance to our national security. The 
bill is needed to continue the authority to conduct electronic 
surveillance of non-U.S. persons overseas under certain procedures 
approved by the FISA Court.
  The Justice Department and DNI have told us:

       [It] is vital in keeping the Nation safe. It provides 
     information about the plans and identities of terrorists, 
     allowing us to glimpse inside terrorist organizations and 
     obtain information about how those groups function and 
     receive support. In addition, it lets us collect information 
     about the intentions and capabilities of weapons 
     proliferators and other foreign adversaries who threaten the 
     United States. Failure to reauthorize Section 702 would 
     result in a loss of significant intelligence and impede the 
     ability of the intelligence community to respond quickly to 
     new threats and intelligence opportunities.

  The committee agreed with Senator Feinstein when she asked us not to 
open the bill up to ``extraneous amendments.'' As it was, the committee 
considered half a dozen amendments offered by Republican Senators. I 
appreciated Senator Kyl volunteering to have his staff convene a 
meeting to consider amendments to our terrorist statutes that he does 
not think will be controversial.
  Notably, the vast majority of the amendments filed and offered by the 
Republicans would not have changed or added a single word to either the 
underlying bill or the underlying statute. Senator Lee's amendment was 
the only Republican amendment that dealt in any way with the relevant 
FISA authorities. That amendment received an up-or-down vote by the 
committee, and most Republican members voted against it.
  Once it became clear that the Republican Senators intended to offer a 
series of extraneous amendments, Senator Feinstein moved to table 
amendments that were not germane to her bill. She has that right. I 
protect the rights of all members of the committee, Republicans and 
Democrats. Four such amendments were tabled, but notably they were 
tabled by a vote of the full committee, not simply through a ruling by 
the chairman or my making up rules, as Republican chairmen have done in 
the past. Indeed, although a motion to table is typically not subject 
to debate, I asked the committee's indulgence to permit such 
discussion. No Senator was cut off from offering amendments or engaging 
in debate.
  It is telling that the two amendments that Senator Grassley offered 
during the committee's consideration of the FISA Amendments Act had 
absolutely no connection whatsoever with the provisions of title VII of 
FISA. The first amendment that Senator Grassley offered would have 
added the death penalty as a punishment to certain crimes involving 
weapons of mass destruction. The second amendment that he offered would 
have required a Department of Justice Inspector General audit of 
criminal wiretap applications from 2009 to 2010. This amendment may be 
important to Senator Grassley in the context of the Fast and Furious 
controversy, but it certainly is not relevant to the FISA Amendments 
Act. Senator Feinstein moved to table both amendments and the motion 
carried each time.
  Let us be accurate, Republican members of the committee were afforded 
the opportunity to offer amendments, even ones outside the scope of the 
legislation. The committee has a process, and we followed that process.
  I understand that Republican Senators are disappointed that they were 
not able to use the FISA Amendments Act legislation as a vehicle to 
carry other legislation. I am disappointed that, as with so many good 
bills the committee has reported, there was so little Republican 
support for a measure that everyone concedes is vital to our national 
security. Like the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, which 
received no Republican vote on this committee; and the Second Chance 
Act, which received no Republican votes on this committee after a 
number of Republican amendments were considered and even though it had 
been a program strongly supported by Republicans historically; the FISA 
Amendments Act Sunsets Extension Act was not supported by a single 
Republican Senator on this committee.
  Let me remind Senators, again, that the Director of National 
Intelligence and the Attorney General have emphasized that the 
reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act is the intelligence 
community's ``top legislative priority.'' I encourage any Senator who 
has not yet done so to review the classified information that the 
administration has provided to Congress about the implementation of the 
FISA Amendments Act. This is a measure that requires serious debate and 
swift action not partisan bickering or baseless accusations. I 
sincerely hope that we can set aside the election year posturing and 
press ahead with consideration of this important national security 
measure. The American people deserve no less.