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Secret House Session on Surveillance

House Talks Surveillance in Secret, Senate Kills Earmark Ban

Moments ago at a campaign rally in Springfield, PA, John McCain told the familiar funny about laws and sausages, "the two things you don't want to watch being made." McCain was referring to last night's vote-and-dash in the Senate, combined with the House's rare closed debate on the surveillance bill. He said, "It's hard to do the Lord's work in the city of Satan." (John McCain! I've missed you! )



It was a big, big day of voting that lured all the big presidential-candidates/senators (is that like model/actress?) back to Washington yesterday. Obama and Clinton even had a friendly little convo on the floor of the Senate prior to voting to ban earmark spending for a year (McCain also voted for the ban), which ultimately failed. McCain said of the vote, "We're disappointed that only 29 members of the US Senate understand that the American people want us to stop this practice, which has led to corruption."

To eavesdrop on what happened in the secretive House, read more.

In the first secret session of the House in 25 years (only five of which have taken place since 1825 — the last one was over paramilitary operations in Nicaragua) heated debate took place over the Democrats' newly proposed bill to set rules for the government's surveillance of phone calls and emails. The secret session was secured by House Republicans to delay the vote by one day.

President Bush has vowed to veto the bill in favor of the FISA bill passed by the Senate. The president's main objection is that the bill does not protect from lawsuits telecommunications companies that allowed the government to eavesdrop on their customers without legal court-backed permission.

Were you glad to see the candidates back in the Capitol? Does the secret closed session bother you? Do you think, like the candidates, the earmark ban should have passed?

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