On July 4 of this year, an old patriot passed away. Former five-term North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms, retired since 2002, finally succumbed at 86 after a long career on the forefront of American conservatism during the Cold War and thereafter.
The bill amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) would allow the government to engage in massive collection of American citizens’ communications without a search warrant, clearly in violation of the Fourth Amendment, is moving forward in the Senate, after having been passed by the House on June 20. In February, the Senate had passed similar legislation (see Senate vote #25 in “The Freedom Index” in this issue of TNA), but the House did not do likewise and the legislation stalled. More recently a compromise between the Bush administration and congressional leaders breathed new life into the legislation.
During a recent hearing of the House Judiciary Committee dealing with rising oil prices, John Hofmeister, the president of Shell Oil, testified: “I can guarantee to the American people, because of the inaction of the United States Congress, ever increasing prices, unless the demand comes down — and the five dollars [a gallon gas] will look like a very low price in the years to come if we are prohibited from finding new reserves, new opportunities to increase supplies.”
On Monday, June 2, the U.S. Senate began deliberating on the Climate Security Act (S. 3036), in what many hoped would mark the start of a historic debate. But progress was thwarted by partisan bickering over judicial nominations and by procedural maneuvers, such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s insistence that all 492 pages be read into the record, which took more than eight hours.
In May Minnesota and Alaska became the eighth and ninth states whose legislatures have rejected Real ID, joining Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Washington. A dozen more states have approved resolutions calling for the costs of the Real ID program to be fully covered by Congress or the act repealed.