Game Of Chicken
So the good news is that the Democrats more or less hung together today on cloture and successfully filibustered the lousy Senate Intelligence FISA bill. However, the outcome of all this is still uncertain.
The vote on the Motion for Cloture on the 30-day extension (i.e., to proceed to a vote on it) just failed -- 48-45 (again, 60 votes are needed). All Democrats (including Clinton and Obama) voted in favor of the Motion, but no Republicans did -- not a single one. Thus, at least as of today, there will be no 30-day extension of the PAA and it will expire on Friday.
Reid, however, indicated that it was certain that the House will vote in favor of an extension tomorrow, which means it will be sent to the Senate for another vote. It's possible, then, that the Senate will vote again later in the week on an extension, but it's hard to imagine any Republicans ever voting in favor of an extension since Bush has vowed to veto it.
By blocking an extension, Republicans just basically assured that the PAA -- which they spent the last seven months shrilly insisting was crucial if we are going to be Saved from The Terrorists -- will expire on Friday without any new bill in place. Since the House is going out of session after tomorrow, there is no way to get a new bill in place before Friday. The Republicans, at Bush's behest, just knowingly deprived the intelligence community of a tool they have long claimed is so vital. Is the media going to understand and be able to explain what the Republicans just did? Yes, that's a rhetorical question.
It now appears to be a game of chicken. Will the Republicans allow this law to expire, will they pass the extension and have the president veto it, or will they pass the extension, let it stand and then come back to fight this again next week? And, as Greenwald asks, will the media try or even be able to explain this to anyone?
It's a little weird that the Democrats had to filibuster a bill when they have a majority, but at least they were able to do it. I guess that's progress?