House Debates RESTORE Act

The House is currently debating the RESTORE Act of 2007 (Responsible Electronic Surveillance That is Overseen, Reviewed, and Effective), H.R. 3773. This bill provides the Intelligence Community with effective tools to conduct surveillance of foreign targets outside the United States but restores Constitutional checks and balances that were not contained in President Bush's bill, the Protect America Act (PAA).

Read details of the legislation in our current legislation section >>

Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12) spoke during debate on the rule this morning:

Rep. Holt: “The RESTORE Act now includes provisions via the manager’s amendment that will ensure that it is the courts, not an executive branch political appointee, who decides whether or not the communications of American citizens are to be seized and searched, and that such seizures and searches must be done pursuant to a court order that meets the standard of probable cause… Everyone here can tell each of our constituents — Muslim americans, soldiers in uniform, international businessmen, college students — you have the protection of the courts… I urge my colleagues to vote yes on the rule and to vote yes on the RESTORE Act later today.”

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (TX-25) spoke during debate on the rule:

Rep. Doggett:
“For a party that purports to hate big government, these Republicans sure do seem to love Big Brother. They demand unlimited executive power and unrestrained authority to intrude into our everyday lives. And today we dare to impose some limitations on one of so many examples of their callous disregard of our liberties. If even former Attorney General John Ashcroft, sitting there in the hospital bed, in intensive care, if even he could recognize the illegality of the surveillance which Dick Cheney demanded, why shouldn’t we in Congress be able to do the same thing? And if one telecommunications company had the courage to say no to this administration’s wrongdoing, why not the others?”

Chairman Jerrold Nadler of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties speaks in favor during full debate:

Rep. Nadler: “Anyone who can read will see that this bill does not inhibit the government’s ability to spy on terrorists or on suspected terrorists or to act swiftly and effectively on the information we gather… the bill does not require individual warrants of foreign terrorists located outside the United States. That’s been the law for three decades. It’s still the law. The bill does provide reasonable FISA court oversight to ensure that when our government starts spying on Americans it does so lawfully by getting a warrant from the FISA court. It will put an end to this administration’s well-worn ‘trust me’ routine. I trust our intelligence community to gather solid intelligence on threats to our nation, but protecting Constitutional rights is not their prime job. That is why we have courts.”

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) speaks in favor during full debate:

Rep. Schakowsky: “I believe the way that we conduct the fight against terrorism says a great deal about who we are as a people. We all want to keep the country safe from terrorism and to provide the necessary tools to our intelligence community. But I’m not willing to sacrifice who we are and what we stand for just because this president says so. The President’s Protect America Act cut the FISA Court out of the process. The RESTORE Act puts the court back in. Now the court, not the president, will decide whether the constitutional and legal requirements are met.”
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