The Note: Nine Stories

Sen. Clinton's New York Senate opponent, former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer (R-NY), issued a statement yesterday saying: "Like Russ Feingold, Senator Clinton opposes the National Security Agency wiretapping that uncovered Al Qaeda's plot to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge. Senator Clinton just lacks the honesty to call for censure. While I strongly disagree with him, at least Senator Feingold has moral conviction. I'm afraid Senator Clinton's only moral conviction is her own personal ambition. It's time for Senator Clinton to do the right thing. Reject Senator Feingold's resolution, put ambition aside and put national security first."

Michael Myers of the Cedar Rapids Gazette has Sen. Tom Harkin's (D-IA) comments on his decision to jump in the Feingold boat: "'The only danger we face in the resolution is the danger we always face when you speak truth to power,' Harkin told reporters. 'Power always comes back at you when you speak the truth. The truth is out there -- the president lied to us, the president broke the law.'" LINK

Politics of surveillance:

The Bush administration could continue to obtain wiretaps for up to 45 days without a warrant according to legislation introduced yesterday by Sens. Mike DeWine (R-OH), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), reports the Washington Post's Charles Babington. LINK

After 45 days, the Justice Department would have to do one of three thins: "It could drop the surveillance, seek a warrant from FISA's court, or convince a handful of House and Senate members that although there is insufficient evidence for a warrant, continued surveillance "is necessary to protect the United States'."

Big Casino budget politics:

Last night the Senate approved the 2007 budget plan which kept Bush's proposed cut of Medicare, added $11 billion to federal spending, and approved for Artic drilling, reports Bloomberg News. LINK

The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman and Shailagh Murray Note that lawmakers "voted to spend well over $100 billion" yesterday "without making offsetting budget cuts." LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Jackie Calmes writes of the political implications of yesterday's Senate budget votes. ". . . by drawing attention to the record spending already in place, yesterday's action carries political costs: Republican leaders fear many conservatives are becoming so demoralized that they won't vote in the midterm elections, threatening Republican control of Congress."

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank describes yesterday's Senate vote to increase the federal debt limit by $800 billion to $9 trillion as the, "political equivalent of going on a shopping spree the same day you get a credit-line increase on your over-the-limit card." LINK

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) had his amendment to spend an extra $7 billion on domestic programs passed, but felt it was still inadequate.

"I don't have any apologies to make for this 7 billion. I'm still not satisfied."

Sen. Mary Landrieu's (D-LA) crossing of party lines on the budget vote avoided the need for Vice President Cheney to cast a tie-breaking vote. The Senate added an additional $16 billion in spending to what the Administration had requested, reports the New York Times.

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