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In the shadow of the president’s final State of the Union address, Senate Democrats are preparing for an 11th-hour showdown with George W. Bush and his Republican allies in Congress over controversial surveillance legislation.The Senate will vote Monday at 4:30 p.m. on a GOP proposal that would cement an expansion of the president’s authority to spy on Americans and free from legal jeopardy any telephone or Internet service provider who helped the country’s intelligence agencies to collect vast amount of data on US citizens without a warrant. Anti-immunity activists say they expect the GOP gambit to fail.
Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) successfully led an effort to block immunity in December, just before Congress’ holiday recess, and the Senate returned to the issue last week, considering dual proposals from the Intelligence and Judiciary committees. Last Thursday, Republicans and a dozen Democrats blocked Judiciary’s proposal to update FISA without immunity, but the GOP then refused an agreement that would have required a mere 51-vote majority to pass further amendments.
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