First tangible benefit of Democratic victory?

Monday, November 13, 2006 at 04:03 PM

In what may well be the first benefit to be seen from the Democratic victory in last week's elections, the AP reported over the weekend that:

President Bush's once-secret program for wiretapping U.S.-foreign phone calls and computer traffic of suspected terrorists without warrants shows all the signs of not moving ahead, notwithstanding President Bush's request this week that a lame-duck Congress give it to him.

The warrantless surveillance, along with our policy of torturing detainees but defining it as something else, posed a major threat to both our civil rights and our national character, and congress at one point seemed poised to deliver that authority to a president who has repeatedly shown himself unable to resist overreaching.

The House had already passed a version of the bill, but the Senate's ardor for it had already cooled before the election, and the incoming Democratic majority seems to have driven a political stake through the heart of the Senate bill (S. 3931).  According to the AP:

Senate Democrats, emboldened by Election Day wins that put them in control of Congress as of January, say they would rather wait until next year to look at the issue. "I can't say that we won't do it, but there's no guarantee that we're going spend a lot of time on controversial measures," Democratic Whip Richard Durbin of Illinois said Thursday.

In Senate parlance, that means no.

Republicans for months have known that no bill accomplishing Bush's goal could get filibuster-proof support from 60 senators. Sealing off any hope was what Democratic leader Harry Reid put on his lame-duck to-do list. The warrantless domestic surveillance bill was conspicuous in its absence.