Senate Democrats had an opportunity Tuesday night to block legislation that places expanded warrantless spying powers into the hands of President Donald Trump — who they have frequently criticized as a deranged authoritarian — but 18 Democrats opted instead to do the opposite, providing the decisive votes in favor of a cloture motion that essentially ensures the bill’s passage this week.
While many viewed the Senate’s approval of cloture as a sure thing, a bit of drama ensued Tuesday night as the motion was two votes shy of the necessary 60 with two senators — John Kennedy (R-La.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) — left to vote.
But after Kennedy opted to vote in favor of the motion, McCaskill quickly followed with a yes vote of her own — giving the Republican majority enough votes to kill debate on the the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017 (S.139), block any possible privacy amendments, and clear its path to the Senate floor.
In total, 18 Democratic senators — as well as Angus King (I-Maine) — voted with Republicans to move the widely denounced bill forward.
The 18 Democrats were: Tom Carper (Del.), Bob Casey (Pa.), Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Tammy Duckworth (Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Maggie Hassan (N.H.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Doug Jones (Ala.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Joe Manchin (W.V.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Gary Peters (Mich.), Jack Reed (R.I.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Mark Warner (Va.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.).
Democrat Claire McCaskill just made the deciding vote: she voted YES on on cutting off debate for privacy amendments to the NSA spying bill.
The bill—which expands the Trump admin’s ability to conduct domestic surveillance—will now almost certainly pass.
— Trevor Timm (@trevortimm) January 17, 2018
Civil liberties groups were quick to condemn every senator who cast a vote in favor of legislation that, if passed, will renew Section 702 of FISA, which allows the government to spy on the electronic communications of Americans and foreigners without a warrant.
“Members of both parties who voted in favor of this legislation should be sharply rebuked for supporting a bill that is in flagrant violation of the rights enshrined in the Constitution,” ACLU declared on Twitter following Tuesday’s vote. “Instead of instituting much needed reforms and safeguards, Senators supported legislation that would give spying powers to an administration that has time and time again demonstrated its disregard for civil rights and civil liberties.”
60 Senators tonight voted to make it easier to spy on people against whom the FBI has no evidence of wrongdoing than against criminal suspects.
— emptywheel (@emptywheel) January 17, 2018
The Senate’s vote on Tuesday came just a week after 65 House Democrats momentarily dropped their skepticism of Trump’s mental capacity and voted to gift him and Attorney General Jeff Sessions the ability to conduct mass surveillance of Americans with little oversight.
What follows is a full list of the senators who voted in favor of the cloture motion Tuesday night. (Ten of the Democrats on the list are up for reelection in November.)
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