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LA Democratic Congressman Vote for Domestic Spying Bill

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Despite the general consensus of constituents in their respective districts, three Democratic congressmen representing Los Angeles areas have voted to pass a controversial bill " that would offer retroactive immunity to telephone companies that cooperated with the federal government’s post-Sept. 11, 2001, domestic spying program and did so despite widespread opposition in their districts," reports the Glendale News Press.

Adam Schiff (D-Pasadena), Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) and Howard Berman (D-Van Nuys) all supported the bill that is considered divisive by some and "could quash about 40 lawsuits pending against telecommunication companies that helped the government monitor phone traffic without warrants."

The bill now moves to the Senate, where at least two Democratic senators, Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), have promised to filibuster the bill. Congress originally passed the legislation in March and amended it last week. Changes to the bill include: requiring security agencies, such as the FBI, to get court orders before wiretapping individual Americans, except in emergency situations, and denying the administration’s right to arbitrarily authorize wiretapping without adhering to the bill’s requirements. The bill also requires federal oversight of the wiretapping program and requires court approval for intercepting telephone calls and e-mails that pass through U.S.-based servers.

Schiff would not disclose constituent opposition to the paper, Berman did not respond and Sherman said that most constituents opposed the bill, but it was not a majority concern compared to gas prices and mortgages.
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Most Democratic congressman agree with the three, however. The vote record for the bill shows that the house is almost evenly split between Republicans and Democrats.

"I'm not thrilled with this bill, but it does have the clearest possible language to keep this president from trampling on our civil liberties," Sherman told the paper. "Some questions are not between good and very good but between mildly good and despicable. This is mildly good."

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