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FISA on the floor; housing boondoggle on hold; DeMint puts heat on Reid; Update: FISA moves forward, 80-15

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By Michelle Malkin  •  June 25, 2008 04:40 PM

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I’m keeping an eye on the FISA debate that has been unfolding on the Senate floor. Sen. Orrin Hatch gave a spirited statement taking on the unreality-based FISA reform opponents who “sit in their basements wearing tinfoil hats and who believe 9/11 was an inside job.”

Zing.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller is now reviewing the compromise provisions and, believe it or not, he’s praising Harry Reid for putting national security first–even though Reid opposes the compromise.

The nutroots are seething about those who have flipped and will vote for the FISA compromise.

4:40pm. Standing by for the vote…

4:45pm. Chris Dodd is on the floor whinging about his mortgage boondoggle bill. Mum’s the word on his special “Friend of Mozilo” home loan.

4:55pm Eastern. Dodd finally finished whinging. He needs unanimous consent to proceed with a final vote on the housing bill, but there is one dissenting, maverick Senator holding it up. Bravo, Sen. Jim DeMint. Received this info from his office this afternoon:

In case you missed earlier news, Reid has threatened to delay votes on FISA and War funding until he conservatives agree to let him rush through the lender bailout. Senator DeMint has no intention of allowing Reid to cut debate short on a housing bill that we keep learning more disturbing news about every day (sweetheart deals for senators, bank lobbyists write the bill, fingerprint database of realtors and bank employees, IRS collection of credit card transaction info). As DeMint told reporters just a few minutes ago: “Harry Reid has been holding our national security hostage to force through his liberal agenda.”

eMint Sets Sights on Housing Bill
June 25, 2008, 3:13 p.m.
By Tim Taylor
Roll Call Staff

As the negotiators on the housing bill scramble to deal with what amendments to include in the massive legislation, another battle is brewing that may delay the housing measure altogether.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said Wednesday that he believes that the Senate must take its time with the housing bill, perhaps delaying a vote until after the break.

“There are too many questions out there. … I think it would beneficial that we take a fresh look at it after the break,” DeMint said.

DeMint emphasized that he is not “holding up the bill,” but since the White House has taken a hard line against it, he believes that it might as well go through all the procedural hoops before a final tally is taken.

Specifically, DeMint is threatening to force the Senate to jump all of the regular procedural hoops, including the 30 hours of debate typically allotted a bill, that lawmakers usually waive in order to more efficiently consider legislation.

The South Carolina Republican said he wants to “make sure that we have the full debate time on every aspect of this. I don’t think we need to pass it this week before the break, so I don’t intend to allow unanimous consents to shorten the debate time on this bill.”

If DeMint follows through with his threat, the housing bill would not hit the floor until later this week, forcing vote during the weekend or delaying one until after the recess.

DeMint said it would probably be “Saturday or Sunday” if Reid wants to make the Senate jump through all the procedural tangles to pass the measure, which enjoys the broad bipartisan support of more than 80 Members.

For the past week, many GOP Senators have questioned the financial benefit that mortgage house Countrywide would receive in the bill, particularly on the heels of controversy surrounding favorable mortgages received from the lender by Sens. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), the housing bill’s chief sponsor, and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.).

DeMint has threatened to block the bill for some weeks now, arguing that Senators do not fully understand the benefits provided to such financial institutions as Countrywide.

***

Update: Here’s the roll call vote on the cloture motion for the FISA bill, which advances to a final vote tomorrow. Vote was 80-15.

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