Conflict News from Wired News – House Endorses Snoop Bill. Just hours after the Senate approved its version of the anti-terrorism bill, House legislators followed suit by voting 339-79 to ease limits on wiretapping and Internet monitoring.
The big difference: The House attached an expiration date to the “USA Act”. The wiretap sections expire in December 2004 — unless the president decides it is in the “national interest” to extend them until December 2006.
During the five-hour debate, legislators complained that House leaders had forced a vote before anyone had a chance to review the 175-page bill. Early in the morning, top House Republicans met privately and abruptly agreed to use the Senate's anti-terrorism bill instead of a more moderate one that their colleagues had expected.
Democrats were the most strident critics of that decision. Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) said: “What we have today is an outrageous procedure: A bill, drafted by a handful of people in secret, comes to us without a committee review and immune to amendment.”
Frank was talking about a rule handed down from GOP leaders on Friday morning that banned any changes to the USA Act before the vote. [Privacy Digest]