Working Along Party Lines to Protect America and Our Civil Liberties (Sen. Kit Bond)

Today, my colleagues in the Senate, led by Chairman Rockefeller, worked across party lines to give our intelligence community one of the most important tools in keeping America safe.

With a vote of 69-29, the Senate ended debate on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act – clearing the way for final passage of the terrorist surveillance bill later tonight.

This bipartisan vote signals the Senate’s strong support for the terrorist surveillance bill, which was voted out of the Senate Intelligence Committee almost unanimously last October.

Even more importantly, this vote proves to American families that Republicans and Democrats in the Senate can work together to protect our civil liberties and keep our country safe from attack.

Known as FISA, our nation’s foreign terrorist surveillance law provides an early warning system that allows our intelligence operators to detect and disrupt terrorist attacks here at home, on our troops in the field and on our allies abroad.

Because of changes in technology over time, the original FISA law left an intelligence gap that allowed terrorists to use technology to stay a step ahead of terror-fighters.

I was proud to lead the effort to pass a short-term fix, the Protect America Act, in August. This short-term fix expired on February 1st, but a 15-day extension gave Congress an extra two weeks to pass legislation. The House now has until February 16th to act.

Why should Congress act now to give our intelligence community this important terror-fighting tool? Because the United States and our allies face a continuing threat from Al Qaeda and other terrorists.

This is one of the sobering facts laid out before the Senate Intelligence Committee, of which I am the Vice Chairman, during last week's Annual Threat Assessment hearing.

This hearing was a frank discussion about the very real threats to our national security.

The Directors of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, were among the witnesses who testified.

These leaders in the intelligence community told us that America continues to face serious threats from homegrown and foreign terrorists and rogue nations seeking weapons.

Being reminded about the myriad of threats is always sobering, but I hope for my colleagues in the House, it also spurs them to action.

While it should be common sense that we need an updated terrorist surveillance law to disrupt planned attacks here and around the world, don’t take my word for it.

Our intelligence chief – Admiral McConnell – testified at the threat hearing that Senator Rockefeller’s and my bipartisan terrorist surveillance bill is critical to protecting America.

We only have a few days left before the law expires. The Senate acted and now it is time for the House -- let’s get a terrorist surveillance bill signed into law so we can keep American families safe.