House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (Conn.) said today he will vote against reauthorization of a wiretap law.
Updated 2:50 p.m.
Breaking with President Barack Obama, two top House Democrats today expressed their opposition to reauthorizing a wiretap law that was broadened after the 9/11 attacks.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (Conn.) said he will vote against the bill, scheduled for a vote Wednesday, because it does not include a resonable sunset provision. At the same time, Caucus Vice Chairman Xavier Becerra (Calif.) ripped the legislation as unconstitutional.
"There will be no amendments that will be allowed to be offered. The concern there was the lack of the ability to have a sunset. And while Members spoke eloquently here both in defense of, citing the protection inherent in that, there was also caution with respect to the essential freedoms and a call for a reasonable sunset on the bill. Unfortunately that will not be allowed or made in order. And that's why I would oppose it," Larson said. Heather Molino, a Democratic spokeswoman for the House Intelligence Committee, said the bill includes a 2017 sunset provision.
"I am concerned about the security of my family, of my country. But I believe firmly in the Bill of Rights. And I will never do anything as a Member of Congress that will undermine the protections and the rights that we secured through our Founding Fathers at the birth of our nation," Becerra said.
The White House released a Statement of Administration Policy on Monday strongly backing the bill, saying the law it reauthorizes has been "vital" to defending the United States from terrorist attacks.
"Title VII of FISA allows the Intelligence Community to collect vital foreign intelligence information about international terrorists and other important targets overseas, while providing protection for the civil liberties and privacy of Americans. Intelligence collection under Title VII has produced and continues to produce significant information that is vital to defend the Nation against international terrorism and other threats," the statement said.
Leaders from military and veterans service organizations joined Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Kelly Ayotte , R-N.H., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., at a press conference to urge the Senate to replace a provision in the budget proposal that cuts retirement benefits for veterans. Wicker, Ayotee, and Graham earlier called for a bipartisan solution to replace the $6.3 billion in cuts to military retiree benefits.
Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year's report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club.