Amendments Rescticting Telecom Immunity Knocked Down

As expected, the Senate on Wednesday defeated by wide margins a trio of amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) overhaul, clearing the way for final passage later in the afternoon.

By votes of 32-66, 37-61 and 42-56, senators defeated three amendments that would have struck down or restricted retroactive legal immunity for telecommunications companies that complied with the Bush administration's electronic surveillance program. The amendments were offered by Sens. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.).

The legislation, which is considered a victory for the White House, would revamp the 1978 FISA program. The fight over whether to immunize telecom firms had frozen talks between both parties and both chambers for several months.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) delayed final FISA votes until 2:15 p.m., to allow time for a Republican lunch, but passage is likely.

- J.T. Rushing

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